Shocking timelapse maps show how fourth Covid wave is coming for England and Wales
SHOCKING timelapse maps suggest a fourth Covid wave is set to hit England and Wales.
If the two nations are set to follow the trajectory of Scotland, where schools reopened last week, cases are expected to surge to potentially record highs.
However, experts say despite the raging Delta variant, we have “a very good and effective vaccination campaign” which will work against it.
Scotland welcomed its first pupils back from August 11, at which point cases were at around 1,400 a day.
But fast forward to August 26, a week after schools opened, Scotland is now recording the highest number of cases per day than ever before, at an average of 5,000 a day.
The map, from the Government coronavirus dashboard, shows most areas of Scotland were recording no more than 200 cases per 100,000 people, apart from around the Dumfries and Galloway and Strathclyde – home to Glasgow.
But now almost the whole nation is under 400 to 800 cases per 100,000, with parts of Strathycle and Central Scotland well above this.
More than double the number of under 18s are being diagnosed each day compared with its previous last peak, in July, and triple that of January.
Scotland, along with Northern Ireland, is currently facing the brunt of the Covid crisis, home to the top 10 areas with the highest infection rates.
Scotland is the only country to be seeing a noticeable rise in the number of people admitted to hospital each day, with doctors already warning they can’t take the pressure – and it’s not even winter yet.
It’s not clear why Northern Ireland’s Covid rate steeply inclined from late-July, reaching almost January peak level.
But it could be because it has the lowest vaccination rate of all home nations – 77.4 per cent of people are fully vaccinated compared to Wales’ 83.6 per cent, amid spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.
All schools fully reopen in Northern Ireland this week from Wednesday 1, a few days before most schools in England and Wales on Monday 6.
But across the UK, hardly any safety measures will be in place to protect kids from the virus, with “bubbles” dropped.
Only those aged 16 and over vaccinated with one dose with further delays expected on a decision on whether to jab those over the age of 12.
Meanwhile in England, Covid cases have stayed relatively stable for the past three weeks, with around 25,000 per day.
They are growing in Wales, which lifted all remaining restrictions on August 7, later than England’s “Freedom Day” on July 19.
This should be a warning for England, where the situation is likely to be much worse.
Experts have warned the nation is a warning to England and Wales, where hospitalisations are currently flat and Covid cases are already at dangerous heights.
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, Tweeted: “Scotland is proving to be a cautionary tale of what happens when restrictions are dropped & then schools reopened without adequate mitigations when R is already above 1 (which is where we are in England).
“We can expect worse in England in the near future.
“More recently, cases [in Scotland] have been rising even more steeply, and some of this appears to be attributable to transmission in educational institutions.
“Hospitalisations in Scotland are already increasing, and the impact of increase in transmission among children following school openings will only be felt in hospitalisation rates among these groups next week.
“This should be a warning for England, where the situation is likely to be much worse.”
Measures in Scotland and Northern Ireland schools are more robust than what will be in place for England and Wales, with teachers told to socially distance from pupils and masks to be worn throughout the day.
Controlling the virus in England’s schools will heavily rely on repeated lateral flow testing of kids without symptoms, despite the fact experts say the tests are only good for detecting people with symptoms.
Dr Gurdasani, a member of Independent SAGE, warned: “Later this week, we will have unvaccinated children going to school in England with infection rates 26x higher than they were in Sept last year, with a more transmissible variant.
"Last Sept cases quadrupled after schools reopened in 4 weeks. What's going to happen this time?
“Let's remember schools in England won't even have the few mitigations that are present in Scotland…. This is a recipe for disaster.”
Dr Kit Yates, a mathematician at Bath University and fellow Independent SAGE member, said the impact of schools reopening would be “potentially disastrous”.
He Tweeted: “We will see cases rise in young people, but also in older age groups with all the attendant consequences (illness, hospitalisations and deaths and long Covid).
“We've had so long to do something about this, yet in recent months we have actually gone backwards (removing masks, bubbles, isolation of contacts, etc).”
Worsing cases = more restrictions
Data shows that infection levels in schoolkids in England are already worryingly high, despite being on break.
The most recent survey from the Office for National Statistics showed around one in 30 people from school year 12 to age 24 are estimated to have had Covid in the week to August 20: the highest positivity rate for any age group.
Dr Gurdasani said the current 40 hospitalisations per day in under 18s is “likely to get worse” – although it's not clear if this figure is Covid alone, or with other respiratory viruses.
We've had so long to do something about this, yet in recent months we have actually gone backwards. The impact of this are potentially disastrous.
SAGE – the Government scientific advisory panel – has already warned a Covid surge in September is “highly likely”.
Teaching unions have suggested that if cases do continue to rise, they may reintroduce some social distancing measures “very shortly”.
Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told The Telegraph: “We're going in with much higher rates of prevalence into schools where we are relying on one mitigation, which is lateral flow testing. In Scotland they have not abandoned the safety precautions.
“My prediction is very shortly we are going to see schools all over the country in their hundreds having to operate contingency framework.”
But despite the barrage of warnings – and concern – how the outbreak will play out is unpredictable and can only be forecast.
Modelling previously warned of a summer wave far worse than what actually happened, likely thanks to vaccination.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) which advises the Government, told Times Radio that it “remains to be seen” how things might change when people start to mix more.
Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: “Children are going back to school, people are coming back off their summer vacations…
“We’re in quite a different place from where we were 12 months ago.
“Obviously, we have the Delta variant which is more transmissible, we have quite high prevalence, a lot of cases, but of course on the other side, we have a very good and effective vaccination campaign.
“So I think it remains to be seen how they will trade off against each other and what that will do when September comes and people start to mix a little bit more.”
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