Jul 16 (Reuters) – The COVID-19 crisis in England could reappear surprisingly quickly and the country is not out of the woods yet, top medical adviser Chris Whitty said on Thursday before legal restrictions are lifted.

The Government will remove most pandemic restrictions in England from July 19, claiming that the rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines has largely negated the link between infections and serious illness or death.

Whitty said that the doubling time for hospitalizations was currently about three weeks, and that the low number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 currently could rise to significant levels in the next two months.

The UK has been one of the world’s deadliest countries, but two-thirds of its adult population are fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges people to be cautious as England moves into “phase 4” – the end of legal lockdown restrictions – on Monday. This means that the last businesses that remain closed, including nightclubs, may finally reopen.

Johnson acknowledges that a wave of infections and more deaths are inevitable when the restrictions end, but said the damage would be worse if the economy were kept closed.

However, the isolation requirement for people exposed to positive cases could also hamper the economy, as more than 48,000 cases were recorded on Thursday.

“On Monday we will have a situation in which, on the one hand, we are opening the economy and, on the other, we are closing the economy,” he told LBC radio.

“In the hospitality sector, 20% of the staff is isolated, in the health service up to 25% of the staff are absent, and buses and trains are delayed. This cannot go on like this. This is destroying the economy”.

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