The UK has hit the highest daily rate of COVID cases in the world even as most remaining lockdown restrictions have been lifted in England on “freedom day”.
England’s coronavirus lockdown measures were eased on Monday, with nightclubs, theatres, pubs and restaurants now able to reopen without any caps or restrictions.
There is also no longer a legal requirement to wear face masks, while limits on social gatherings have been scrapped and work-from-home guidance has ended.
But as measures ease, the UK reported there were 47,848 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – the highest number of new infections that day of any country in the world, according to Our World In Data.
The figure is a 1,087% increase since 28 May, when the UK reported just 4,030 new cases.
The increase has been attributed to the Delta virus variant, first detected in India, which continues to spread across England.
Indonesia had the second highest number of new daily cases and India the third, with 44,721 and 38,164 cases reported respectively on Sunday.
Case numbers in the UK have been predicted to rise as high as 200,000 later this summer as measures are lifted.
Critics are continuing to express concern that the government is coming out of the lockdown too soon.
Boris Johnson has urged the country to proceed “cautiously” after the unlocking.
In a video posted on Twitter, the prime minister said: “If we don’t do it now we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?
“But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.”
On Monday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted the government was “doing the right thing”, despite the current case numbers.