The number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has reached its highest level in nearly two months, and regulators have authorized the use of a single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The new mandate, which brings the number of vaccines in the British arsenal to four, comes amid mounting speculation that a new variant of the virus initially identified in India could prompt the British government to delay its next relaxation of restrictions in England.
Another 4,182 new cases were reported in the country, the highest daily level since April 1.
The cases bring the total of confirmed cases in the past seven days to 20,765, an increase of 24% from the previous week.
The surge has prompted scientists to say that the UK is now in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic.
The number of cases is still below the daily peak of around 7,000 new cases recorded in mid-January, during the second wave, but the upward trend has raised questions about the government’s plan to lift the remaining social restrictions on June 21.
The government, which eased restrictions in stages and allowed bars and restaurants to resume internal service, said last week that it would make the final decision on June 14.
The variable identified in India is believed to be responsible for 75% of new cases in the UK and is more transmissible than the previous dominant variant.
Critics argue that the Conservative government is responsible for creating this alternative in Britain, and it is taking time to enforce stringent quarantine requirements on all newcomers from India, which is engulfed in a catastrophic outbreak of the virus that causes COVID-19.