Coronavirus: Why young people hold the key in stopping a second spike in UK cases

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Emily Morgan

We've been talking about it for a long time and sadly, perhaps inevitably, it's happening. The number of coronavirus cases is creeping up and hit a four month high of 2,988 new cases yesterday with a similar number recorded on Monday.

To a large extent it can be explained: lockdown measures have eased, more people are socialising and going back to work, while some children went back to school in June.

As all schools open again this month and students return to universities, the number of cases is likely to increase further. There is also some credence to the argument that the UK is testing more people, so if you test more, it stands to reason you find more virus. 

The new daily cases are obviously far fewer than the number of cases being reported at the height of the pandemic but that's not to say it's not a problem or that we don't need to worry about it.

In fact, the government are "concerned" about it. It's not a crisis yet I'm told, but it is concerning. There are a number of reasons for this.

Spain and France have seen a rise in hospital admissions. Credit: PA

Firstly, the rise in cases is among young people, affecting more under 25-year-olds than anyone else. That in itself isn't a problem since the young tend to have a mild version of the disease and it's rare for any to need hospital treatment, but young people will start to spread it to the more vulnerable in our society: older people and those with underlying health conditions. So, the 'concern' in government is that unless the younger generation take heed, follow public health guidance and socially distance, it's only a matter of time before we start to see a rise in hospital admissions and potentially deaths. Secondly, Spain and France have have also seen a large rise in cases in young people, again not a huge problem, but in the last month hospital admissions have also risen, indicating the vulnerable are beginning to contract it too.

Increased testing has also had an effect on the numbers. Credit: PA

This is precisely what the government wants to avoid. The UK followed Italy's direction of travel during the first wave and it wants to do everything it can to avoid Spain's direction of travel now.What then can stop the case numbers going up and up, then? The Government says three things: Ensure the public, particularly young people adhere to guidance, continuing test and trace and enforce local lockdowns as and when necessary. If all those things happen and work well, there is a chance any second wave of the coronavirus is controlled and no longer a 'concern'.

It's the same old balancing act - open up society and save the economy, while ensuring coronavirus is kept at bay.