Government scientific advisers have warned Boris Johnson that Britain faces a second wave of coronavirus more deadly than the first.
The Prime Minister is under growing pressure to impose tougher curbs after daily Covid-linked deaths hit their highest level since May, with the UK’s total toll thought to have topped 60,000.
Sage, the UK Government’s scientific advisory group, has presented Downing Street with modelling that forecasts the second wave sweeping Britain will peak lower but last longer, according to The Telegraph.
This could mean that high daily death tolls continue throughout the winter months, and peaking at 500 within weeks without drastic action.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, is said to be leading intense lobbying on ministers to tighten the current wave of restrictions.
Sage has warned separately that all of England will need to be under tier three lockdown restrictions by mid-December if Boris Johnson’s aim for a normal Christmas is realised, the paper reported.
Environment Secretary George Eustice told LBC on Wednesday morning that it was “too early to say what restrictions will be in place by Christmas” and families could be banned from festive gatherings under law. He refused to rule out a national lockdown.
But the PM is treading a narrow path, with a group of more than 50 Conservative MPs joining scientists in calling for a clear exit strategy from seemingly open-ended regional lockdown rules.
The Covid-Secure UK exit strategy campaign includes Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, former Tory minister Dan Poulter, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Clive Lewis, as well as Devi Sridhar, professor of global pubic health at Edinburgh University.
They are calling for a “control, suppress and eliminate” strategy that could mirror New Zealand’s successful approach that has allowed life to return to near-normality, including strict border closures.
Meanwhile, some of Europe’s largest economies are folding into shutdown mode once again as a second wave grips the Continent.
French president Emmanuel Macron could order another national lockdown this evening, while Belgium and Germany are set to impose tougher restrictions, following Italy and Spain.
A further 367 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test were announced on Tuesday, the highest daily number since May, bringing the official UK total to 43,365. When mentions of Covid on death certificates are included, the total has surpassed 60,000.
Hospitalisations are also on the rise, especially in the north west. The Government’s former chief scientific adviser warned on Wednesday that 25,000 people could be in hospital with coronavirus by the end of next month if cases continue to rise.