The UK is at risk of a new surge of coronavirus infections, experts have said, as schools and universities reopen their doors and cold weather drives people inside.
On Sunday the government reported 1,715 new cases, the highest daily number since 4 June and the highest number for a weekend day since mid-May.
On Monday 1,406 new cases were reported. Numbers collected over the weekend are often lower than those for other days of the week owing to lower levels of testing and reporting delays.
Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said Sunday’s figure was “quite a big jump”. He said data for the rest of the week would be needed to get a clear idea of the scale of any uptick, but the figures tied in to a broader trend of an increase in infections in the UK since early July.
Prof Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said: “What it clearly demonstrates is we’re in a position where case numbers are going up. So we don’t have much room for manoeuvre.”
Ferguson said the reopening of schools could lead to a further rise. “I think that will pose more stress and is likely to lead to a somewhat fast increase in case numbers. And then at that point there will be a need to make potentially some difficult decisions to get on top of it,” he said.
“We do need to have a system in place to respond to those outbreaks, to implement rapid testing in schools, and measures to control spread.”
Christina Pagel, a professor of operational research at University College London, also said a resurgence could be on the cards. “We are still way below where we were in the middle of March, but any increase is of concern because it means [the coronavirus] is spreading,” she said.
“We are definitely risking a new spike, especially now the weather is turning colder again and people are inside more.”