21 Sep Coronavirus: UK could see 49,000 cases a day by mid-October if surge continues, govt advisers warn | Politics News
The UK could soon see 49,000 new cases of coronavirus every day unless action is taken to drive down the current rate of infection, the government’s chief scientific adviser has warned.
Sir Patrick Vallance told a Downing Street briefing that the number of new COVID-19 cases was doubling roughly every seven days.
He said that if this continued unabated, the UK would be seeing around 50,000 cases a day by the middle of October.
Sir Patrick said that this would then translate to “200-plus deaths a day” by mid-November.
“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days,” he said.
“There are already things in place which are expected to slow that, and to make sure that we do not enter this exponential growth and end up with the problems that you would predict as a result of that.
“That requires speed, it requires action and it requires and it requires enough in order to be able to bring that down.”
He was joined by Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer for the briefing, which aimed to set out potential scenarios as cases in the UK continue to rise.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering tightening measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus amid a rise in the number of cases.
Daily confirmed cases have returned to levels last seen in May.
And the R number, which shows the spread of the virus, is now between 1.1 and 1.4.
Professor Whitty has warned that infection rates are “heading in the wrong direction” – and the country is at a “critical point” in the pandemic.
About 13.5 million people across the UK are currently facing some form of local COVID-19 restrictions.
Boris Johnson has said he does not want to put the country into a second national lockdown – but he has warned that he may need to “intensify things” to bring the rate of infections down.
It is understood that Downing Street is looking at introducing temporary nationwide restrictions to try and “short-circuit” the virus.
However, government figures have stressed the plans being drawn up stop short of the full national lockdown that was introduced back in March.
Proposals being worked up could see essential travel to schools and workplaces continuing, but restaurants and bars shut – or perhaps operating on restricted hours – with different households told not to mix at all.
The restrictions could be put in place for two weeks, but the timing and duration has yet to be finalised.
There has been speculation of such a lockdown taking place around the time of school half-term in October.