Britain faces new four-week national lockdown to save Christmas after scientists warn of 4,000 Covid deaths a day
BRITAIN is facing a new four-week national lockdown to save Christmas, after scientists warned of 4,000 deaths a day.
Experts presented No 10 with grim projections on what could happen if Covid is not brought under control, reportedly telling the PM full restrictions will be the only way to save the festive period.
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The virus is thought to be spreading faster than the initial "worst-case scenario" predicted.
Grim models shown to Downing Street forecast 4,000 daily deaths before the end of the year if more severe restrictions aren't brought in, the BBC reports.
It comes as experts predict a peak of deaths hitting on Christmas Eve.
After a U-turn on the prospect, an announcement is expected this week plunging the country into a second national lockdown, with the aim to save Christmas from being ruined by the virus running wild.
Tough nationwide Covid restrictions could be introduced as soon as next Wednesday — and last until December.
Pubs and restaurants in England face being shut for a month-long lockdown after scientists gave the PM “grim” data on the second wave. He is tipped to announce the move on Monday.
The curbs, which would see everything closed except essential shops and educational settings, could be introduced on Wednesday and remain in place until December 1.
It comes after government scientists presented the PM with “grim” data on the second wave, despite the R-rate falling.
CLAMPDOWN FOR CHRISTMAS
Grim projections looking at all outcomes have left Downing Street fretting about the festive period, and the spread of the virus.
Crucially, the projections predict NHS beds will become overwhelmed with Covid patients.
Government medics have warned that some hospitals may not even have enough staff to cope with the extra patients on top of the normal winter strains on the NHS.
Pubs, bars and restaurants face being closed for weeks under the clampdown — which the Government is determined to avoid calling a new lockdown.
There is an ongoing debate within Whitehall over whether to impose national restrictions or toughen up local measures.
Options being considered are ramping up the current tiered system of Covid restrictions by adding a fourth level — dubbed Tier 3 Plus.
That has been suggested for the biggest hotspots — but some insiders prefer a blanket approach of the same restrictions across the country.
And they said the PM was likely to announce new nationwide rules.
The move would signal a major U-turn from Boris, who has repeatedly insisted he wants to pursue a regional approach.
But the Government has become increasingly isolated after Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales imposed mini-lockdowns.
Brits are plotting to escape to the country as England faces a new national lockdown – sparking fears of Paris-style traffic chaos.
As news spread of the expected announcement this week people declared they would flee from cities to enjoy lockdown in the countryside.
Asked if a second national lockdown was worth damaging the economy and people’s mental health, Professor Christina Pagel of the Government’s Sage advisory group said: “I think it’s inevitable.
"And given that it’s inevitable I think the sooner you do it the quicker it’s over and the more lives you save.”
Experts warned a circuit breaker style two-week lockdown would now not be long enough to curb infections.
They told No 10 it is too late for that option now, with a month-long national lockdown the only way to bring down cases, the Times reports.
Earlier yesterday, Sage scientists had left Brits in a Covid muddle by calling for tougher curbs as the R rate falls.
They said a four-week total national lockdown was the only way to save Christmas.
But its own figures showed the R number — the number of people each infected person passes the virus to — is coming down.
Meanwhile, there were hugely conflicting numbers from various sources on daily infections.
A Government-funded study called REACT-1 claimed it was 96,000, the Office for National Statistics put it at nearly 52,000 and research from King’s College London suggested it was 43,569.
But the official daily update issued for lab-confirmed cases was 24,405 — up from 23,065 on Thursday.
A further 274 new deaths were also reported yesterday, down from 280 a day earlier, taking the toll to 46,229.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had yesterday refused to rule out a national lockdown like those in France and Germany.
He said: “We’re always ready for further measures that we can take.”
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
- The NHS could be overwhelmed by Covid this winter without "decisive intervention", medics have warned
- Britain is on the brink of passing 1,000,000 coronavirus cases as the country nears a grim milestone
- More than 85,000 people could die in the second wave of coronavirus, apaper from the Government's Sage group has warned
- The R rate has dropped for the second week in a row – but remains above 1 across the country.
Government scientific advisers are understood to have warned Boris Johnson that a longer lockdown is now necessary.
They believe all areas will need to enter Tier 3 — with some facing even stricter controls.
But the leader of the UK’s largest Covid survey called for calm.
Prof Tim Spector, from King’s College London, said that hospital deaths are still “average” for the season and people should be reassured.
Infection rates in the North of England are still around four-times higher than the South, although the gap is narrowing.
The Sun Says
A SECOND national lockdown would be catastrophic.
Thousands of cancer sufferers have died since the start of the pandemic as a direct result of missed surgeries and screenings.
London ambulance crews now attend an average of 37 suicides or attempted suicides per day, compared with 22 this time last year.
And it’s beyond reasonable doubt that the Stay At Home messaging led to a rise in heart attack deaths between March and July.
That’s before we get to the long-term health effects of plunging thousands into unemployment.
And what would it be for?
Yes, Sage modelling paints a stark picture. But real, current data from the ONS suggests Covid cases have NOT “spiralled out of control” — and deaths remain normal for this time of year.
We see why government scientists want a five-week lockdown: they’re up to their eyes in grim Covid predictions.
But we worry that, in their panic, they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.
The virus is dangerous. But lockdowns are too.
Soldiers are being deployed to northern towns to carry out mass coronavirus testing in a bid to avoid a second lockdown, but this could prove in vain if the PM caves to the pressures from ministers and experts.
Prof Spector said: “While cases are still rising across the UK, we want to reassure people that cases have not spiralled out of control, as has been recently reported from other surveys.
The Sage body yesterday said the R number has fallen over the past week from between 1.2 and 1.4 to between 1.1 and 1.3.
The scientists called for a short national lockdown last month.
But a senior source said such a measure would now fail to get the epidemic under control.
Sage says deaths are highly likely” to exceed the “reasonable worst case scenario” drawn up to help the Government with its planning.
It assumed there would be more than 500 Covid deaths a day for 90 days, with a peak of 800 a day in February and 85,000 in total in the second wave.
Politicians and scientists want to bring infection rates down far enough so loved ones can gather safely for Christmas.
But ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “We’ve moved from a two-week business-breaker to a four-week Britain-breaker.
“We need Sage and others to understand that a broken economy will lead to desperate times including extended ill-health and a situation where the poorest in society will suffer the most.”
And he added: “We must not do a national lockdown.”
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