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Rising coronavirus infections among young ‘threaten second wave’

CORONAVIRUS deaths are at their lowest level since the lockdown began but a soaring number of new cases suggests the virus is spreading among less vulnerable groups, figures show.

Covid-19 claimed 217 lives in England and Wales in the week ending July 24 — down from 295 the week before and the lowest since March 20, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports. Hospital admissions during July also fell from 217 to 104.

But the number of cases detected has risen from 2,800 to 4,200 a day, according to estimates, threatening a second wave. Dr Konstantin Blyuss, a mathematician at the University of Sussex, said: ‘The disease is reaching a much wider pool of people who are communicating much more with each other — younger people and people who are travelling for work.’

He said younger people with a much lower chance of dying have ‘this illusion that everything is fine’ but can still spread the disease. In Greater Manchester, where lockdown measures have been reimposed, Trafford’s director of public health Eleanor Roaf said: ‘Infection rates are spreading through people going out and about more, and perhaps the relaxing of the night-time economy.’

The ONS statistics — which count all death certificates mentioning coronavirus — put the UK’s Covid toll at 56,651, but deaths overall were below average for the sixth week. Public Health England figures show the 15-44 age group now has the highest rate of infection.

Virology lecturer Dr Jeremy Rossman said colleges and universities would need better contact tracing. ‘Freshers’ Week is not a week of restraint or social distancing,’ he warned.