UK coronavirus live: calls for national lockdown as about 560,000 people in England had Covid last week | Politics

The government’s expert advisers said coronavirus infections and hospital admissions were exceeding their worst-case scenario planning le...


The government’s expert advisers said coronavirus infections and hospital admissions were exceeding their worst-case scenario planning levels four days before Boris Johnson announced the three-tier system of restrictions.

A document from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) summarising the Sage meeting of 8 October said incidence and prevalence across the UK continue to increase, with data showing “clear increases” in hospital and intensive care admissions, particularly in the North of England.

The paper said projections indicate the number of deaths is “highly likely” to exceed reasonable worst-case scenario levels within the next two weeks.

“Well over 100 new deaths per day are projected to occur within two weeks, even if strict new interventions are put in place immediately,” the document said, adding: “In all scenarios the epidemic is still growing.”

Four days after the Sage meeting, on 12 October, Johnson announced England would be placed into “medium”, “high” and “very high” alert levels – or tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 – under a new tier system of restrictions aimed at tackling the virus.

At a Downing Street press conference that day, England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said he was “not confident” that the “base case” for tier 3 proposals “would be enough to get on top of” the virus spread.

The newly published Sage document comes amid growing doubt over the effectiveness of the three-tier system, with the NHS test and trace recording its highest ever weekly number of positive cases and a study by Imperial College London finding that almost 100,000 people are catching Covid-19 every day.

Experts are suggesting a more national approach is needed to address the soaring infection rate, with the expectation that the current trajectory is likely to result in nearly everywhere in England in at least Tier 2 before Christmas.

The number of daily has exceeded 100 since the launch of the tiers.

A government spokeswoman said: “As a responsible government, we continue to prepare for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case scenario, and this is kept under constant review.

“Our approach is based on the different levels of prevalence of the virus across the UK, but we will not hesitate to put in place further measures if necessary.

“We have made significant strides in our response to the pandemic: an extra £3bn in funding has been made available to the NHS to help it continue to provide high quality care as we head into winter, treatments like dexamethasone have been proven to save lives, and there is promising progress in finding a safe vaccine through government-backed scientific research.”

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Newsrust: UK coronavirus live: calls for national lockdown as about 560,000 people in England had Covid last week | Politics
UK coronavirus live: calls for national lockdown as about 560,000 people in England had Covid last week | Politics
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