UNITED KINGDOM: Health officials are braced for a likely surge of coronavirus cases as about 500,000 people head to music festivals and millions head to the tourism and bank holiday hotspots.
After the Boardmasters festival this month, cases in Cornwall and Devon have reached a record level with infection rate among teenagers at a five-fold increase.
The U.K. is expected to enjoy its sunny days as it marks the first bank holiday weekend since most coronavirus restrictions were lifted this summer.
The news came as the Rail Delivery Group showed figures indicating that train ticket sales for seaside destinations exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
At least eight festivals are expected to attract about 500,000 people across England – including Leeds and Reading, Creamfields in Cheshire and Victorious in Portsmouth – with some events taking place this weekend. Besides, upcoming pride celebrations expect tens of thousands of people on the streets of Manchester alone.
Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said, “The lifting of restrictions and the successful vaccination programme had caused people to drop their guard against Covid, adding to an really high pressured situation for Cornwall’s health system.”
“Living with Covid is not the same as pretending it doesn’t exist, and I think that’s what has happened,” she said. “It’s not just younger people, that’s a general picture for people who have been told that all gloves are off and they’re taking that at face value”.
She added: “In Cornwall, we’ve always been trying to take a cautious approach because we’re expecting high visitor numbers. Our population has been cautious up to now. I think there’s a sense that everybody feels they’re on holiday now the restrictions have been removed.”
Although the vaccination programme is helping to suppress large numbers of deaths and serious illness, officials warned on Thursday that parts of the NHS are battling “unprecedented high-level demand” and that more cases could disrupt the return of schools next week.