Prime Minister ‘considering national lockdown’ until December
PUBLISHED: 10:39 31 October 2020
England could be plunged into a second national lockdown next week as the Prime Minister considers his next moves on tackling Covid-19.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce the new measures at a press conference on Monday, The Times has reported.
The restrictions could be introduced on Wednesday and remain in place until December 1, according to the paper.
The national move would see Suffolk put under the most stringent measures since the first lockdown was lifted this earlier this year.
It would mean that everything will be closed except essential shops and “educational settings”.
Despite the reports, it is understood that no final decisions are believed to have been made, and tougher regional measures - such as the introduction of Tier 4 - are also being considered.
Mr Johnson has so far resisted pressure to reintroduce nationwide restrictions, despite calls for a “circuit-breaker” to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.
But new data published on Friday suggested around 570,000 people per week are becoming infected with Covid-19 across England, prompting fresh calls from scientists for tougher restrictions.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey found cases “continued to rise steeply” in the week ending October 23, with an estimated 568,100 people in households becoming infected.
Calls have been made for Suffolk to remain under the lowest number of restrictions over the past two weeks as case numbers were below the national average.
However positive tests are rising in the region, with West Suffolk breaching 100 cases per 100,000 people for the first time.
Ipswich could well reach the same level over the coming days.
Scientific advisers at the top of Government believe it is now too late for a two-week national circuit-breaker to have enough of an effect and a longer national lockdown is needed to drive the reproduction number, or R value, of the virus below one.
All parts of England are on course to eventually end up in Tier 3 restrictions, they believe, while deaths could potentially hit 500 per day within weeks.
Government scientists are also confident that more than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus are now occurring every day in England.
It comes as official documents released by the Government show that a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meeting on October 8 said the number of infections and hospital admissions is “exceeding the reasonable worst case scenario (RWCS) planning levels at this time”.
The document, which came just days before three tier restrictions were announced, said the number of deaths was also “highly likely to exceed reasonable worst case planning levels” within the next two weeks.
Sage documents leaked to The Spectator this week showed an RWCS of 85,000 Covid-19 deaths until the end of March, with more than 500 deaths a day for 90 days at the peak.
The Sage document of October 8 said a continued rise in hospital admissions means that “if there are no decisive interventions, continued growth would have the potential to overwhelm the NHS, including the continued delivery of non-Covid treatments”.
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