UK COVID-19 Update: Scotland Puts COVID Restriction Easing on Hold

Peter Russell

June 22, 2021

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Scotland Delays Lockdown Restrictions

Scotland's First Minister announced a 3 week delay in further easing of COVID restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed earlier reports that the delay, until at least July 19, was needed to allow more people to be vaccinated.

No mainland areas will be moved to the lowest level of zero restrictions for the time being.

However, a review will take place next month.

The Scottish Government would like to lift all major remaining legal COVID restrictions on August 9, but there was no guaranteed this would happen.

The Scottish Government would not immediately recommend a return to office working when all restrictions were lifted, Ms Sturgeon said.

"This won’t just assist with control of the virus, it will also help promote well-being more generally", she told Holyrood.

Antibodies Latest

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that 86.6% of the adult population in England would have tested positive for antibodies against COVID-19 in the week beginning June 7 either as a result of previous infection or vaccination.

Elsewhere in the UK, the figures were estimated at:

  • 88.7% in Wales

  • 85.4% in Northern Ireland

  • 79.1% in Scotland

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the COVID-19 Infection survey, commented: "Across the UK, at least 80% of adults now have some level of antibody protection against COVID-19.

"With infection levels now increasing again in England, this protection will hopefully protect the majority against severe symptoms.

"With vaccinations now open to the under 30s we must continue to monitor how antibody levels change over the coming months."

Commenting on the figures, Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, described them as "reassuring".

He said: "Given that vaccination has only been offered to all adults in the past few days, much of the 16 to 24 age group will have acquired their antibodies from natural infection, only 25% of this group has had a single dose vaccine by the 10th June and somewhat fewer of those would have had their dose long enough ago to have generated antibodies.

"Whilst immunity to COVID infection is not guaranteed in people with antibodies, the presence of antibody is strongly correlated with at least some degree of protection. So, this is very good news, even for younger age groups, in that a substantial proportion (probably even the majority) of those younger age groups already have some degree of protection."

He cautioned though that the figures could not cast light on antibody prevalence in children under 16 years of age.

COVID Deaths Decline

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England decreased to 83 in in the week ending June 11, ONS figures showed.

That compared to 96 in the previous week.

In Wales, deaths decreased to 1 in the same week compared with 2 in the previous week.

Statisticians said the figures could have been influenced by the Spring Bank Holiday.

Overall, though, the number of deaths in week 23 was higher than the five-year average in Wales, and all English regions except the West Midlands.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said the lag in publishing the figures might not take full account of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 and that it was therefore "still rather early to use these registration figures to assess what its effect on deaths might be".

Other News

  • An estimated 280,000 people with asthma in Great Britain deemed at increased risk of dying from COVID-19 failed to receive their first COVID vaccine by the end of March, Asthma UK said. The charity estimated more than 100,000 people were still waiting, two months later.

  • Quarantine-free travel to amber list countries for people who have been fully vaccinated was "absolutely something" the government was "working on", according to England's Health Secretary. Matt Hancock told Sky News that the Government was "working on plans to essentially allow the vaccine to bring back some of the freedoms that have had to be restricted to keep people safe".

  • More than 60,000 fans will now be permitted to attend the semi-finals and final of UEFA EURO 2020 at Wembley Stadium, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said.  All ticket holders would need to have a negative COVID-19 test or proof of two vaccination doses 14 days before the fixture, ministers stressed.

  • Dating site Bumble said it had temporarily closed its offices this week to combat workplace stress, the BBC reported. The app, which allows women to take the initiative for whether to date, said it had told its 700 staff worldwide to switch off and focus on themselves. Lockdown had led to a boost in customers, the report said.

See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.

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