By Vatican News staff reporter
The UK is in the grip of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and cases are on the rise.
Government figures on Thursday showed that the daily rate of infections rose above 10,000 for the first time in nearly four months.
Figures also revealed that another 19 people died after testing positive for the virus, the highest daily death toll reported since May 11.
The UK now has the highest number of deaths in Europe at nearly 128,000.
The current rise in cases is being blamed on the delta variant, which was first identified in India and accounts for around 95% of all new cases in the U.K.
The government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, said there is currently a "further surge" of coronavirus, with the height of it "still uncertain"
He added that the country should brace for a winter surge of the virus.
The UK had been widely praised for its vaccination campaign, which has seen around 63% of the British population receive at least one dose, while around 46% have received two.
Most of the new confirmed cases are among younger age groups who have yet to be inoculated. As of Friday all adults over the age of 18 are to be offered the jab.
The speed with which the new variant has spread has led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay the easing of most of the remaining restrictions until July 19.
Mr Johnson said that if the government were to lift restrictions on June 21st as first planned, there could be thousands more deaths owing to the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
Criticism has been levelled at the government for the surge in infections, with many saying it acted too slowly to impose the strictest quarantine requirements on everyone arriving from India.
As the vaccine rollout continues in the UK, hopes are being pinned on its ability to turn the tide on infection rates and allow the next easing in the lockdown to take place.