The situation with Covid will get worse before it gets better with cases "rising dramatically", medical leaders have warned.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said people should remain cautious, taking measures such as wearing face coverings in crowded indoor spaces. It has warned that the NHS is under unprecedented pressure.
The government is expected to confirm whether the easing of measures in England will go ahead on 19 July. The UK is experiencing a marked increase in cases according to the Office for National Statistics, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid has previously said he would expect numbers of infections to reach about 50,000 new cases a day by that date.
The latest government figures showed an increase of 35,707 Covid cases across the UK - the highest daily figure since 22 January. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said the academy was cautious about issuing dire warnings but she had become profoundly concerned over the last couple of weeks about the idea of removing all restrictions on July 19.
"There seems to be a misapprehension that life will return to normal from then and that we can throw away all the precautions and, frankly, that would be dangerous," she said. In a statement the academy, which represents 23 medical bodies responsible for training and development in various specialties, said it was essential that people took a responsible approach when restrictions were formally lifted.
It warned that there was little doubt that things will get worse before they get better. The academy said there were reports of routine care being postponed due to healthcare professionals isolating amid mounting pressure as people who had stayed away from the NHS during the pandemic now sought treatment.
It added that the growth of long Covid, as well as the backlog of elective work which had built up during the crisis, meant that it is like the worst of a bad winter in July. "There is no doubt that we will get to a position when this dangerous and erratic disease is largely under control for the population as a whole and we can 'learn to live with' Covid-19.
"However, we are not in that position yet and sadly, we have to expect things to get worse again."