London, Sep 8 (PTI) Senior ministers in the UK have joined leading scientists to express concern as the number of coronavirus cases reflected a rise in the country over the past few days.
UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Tuesday that the country was entering a “period of particular concern” after the government's senior scientific advisers gave stark warnings over the rise in cases.
His remarks came after 2,948 new UK cases were recorded on Monday.
'The virus is still very much with us, it's still concerning,' he told the BBC.
'If we all play our own part then we should be able to maintain our daily lives in this sort of new normal but we've got to be very cautious because, as you've seen, the number of cases is rising,' he said.
His warning comes a day after UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on younger people to continue to be cautious as they would be putting the elderly at risk by transmitting the deadly virus.
“Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on. And you can pass it on before you’ve had any symptoms at all,” said Hancock.
England's deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van Tam, said the increase in the number of cases was of 'great concern'.
'People have relaxed too much. Now is the time for us to re-engage, and to realise that this is a continuing threat to us,' he said.
Prof Van Tam added that hospital admissions and deaths were 'at a very low level' in the UK and the rise in cases was most prominent among those aged between 17 and 21, but the country risks following the trajectory of some European Union (EU) countries.
'The fact that 17 to 21-year-olds are not becoming ill means they are lucky, but they also forget because the disease is not severe for them that they are potent spreaders,' he said.
Virus cases were 'increasing exponentially', according to another member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
'We can see the epidemic is taking off again. So I don't think we've hit that sweet spot where we've been able to control the epidemic and allow the economy to return to some sort of normality,' he said.
The seven-day rate of new cases of Covid-19 in the UK has now risen above 20 cases per 100,000 people.
On Sunday 2,988 new cases were announced, which was the highest figure since May 22. At the peak of the virus in spring official figures showed there were 6,000 cases a day, although testing was largely only taking place in hospitals.
The Sage scientists' warnings come as more parts of the UK are to face tougher restrictions following a rise in the number of cases, including western Scotland. In Wales, the county borough of Caerphilly is to be placed under a local lockdown from later on Tuesday.
Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there was evidence of 'community transmission' in the area which had largely been caused by a failure to follow social distancing guidelines. PTI AK NSA