Covid: UK at 'critical point' in pandemic, top scientists to warn

Clay Curtis
September 21, 2020

"There's no doubt" the number of coronavirus cases are increasing now, they said, and it will need to be halted if we don't want to see a rise in deaths.

Referring to a presentation slide looking at the growth of Covid-19 outbreaks, he said: "What we've seen is a progression where, after the remarkable efforts which got the rates right down across the country, first we saw very small outbreaks, maybe associated with a workplace or another environment, then we've seen more localised outbreaks which have got larger over time, particularity in the cities".

He said there were four things to do - washing hands and using masks, quarantine measures, and investing in vaccines and drugs.

"This is a balance of risk between if we don't do enough the virus will take off - and at the moment that is the path we're clearly on - and if we do not change course we are going to find ourselves in a very hard problem".

We all know that the prime minister, although reluctantly, is thinking of another (mini) national lockdown, it sounds as if that mini lockdown could include a ban on mixing with other households, since that is where the virus is being transmitted the most.

"We all know we can not do this without some significant downsides".

Prof Chris Whitty believes the country is facing a "very challenging winter period" and will hold a televised briefing at 11:00 BST.

Speed and action are urgently needed, Vallance and Whitty said, adding that as winter was approaching the COVID problem would haunt Britain for another six months at least.

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"It is very important that we do everything we can to sort of bear down on this", Shapps said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson later this week is expected to announce a slate of short-term restrictions that will act as a "circuit breaker" to slow the spread of the disease.

"The more we can control it now by everybody doing that bit, including us - absolutely - but everybody together, then the easier it is going to be to have as normal a Christmas as possible".

"If this runs out of control now, we'll have to take heavier measures in the future", Hancock said.

Mr Hancock was unable to say whether England's pubs would be allowed to open this weekend and said his answer was "not a no, and it's not a yes".

"We've seen relatively few cases caught through schools and relatively few through people at work".

More areas in north-west England, West Yorkshire and the Midlands, will face further local restrictions from Tuesday, taking the number of people affected by increased local measures in the United Kingdom to around 13.5 million.

The latest figures came after the Government announced anyone in England refusing to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000 and just days after the "rule of six" - banning social gathering of more than six people - came into force.

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