A NATIONAL lockdown for at least a month is the only way to save Christmas, Government scientists have warned.
Sage scientists have called for the UK to follow in the footsteps of France and Germany by enforcing a second country-wide shutdown.
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They say tighter restrictions are needed for “at least a month” to save the NHS as the three-tiered system fails to drive Covid infections and deaths down.
Sage has advised that it is not too late for the Government to step in and save Christmas.
But they warned a two-week circuit breaker will no longer be enough.
Instead, they believe the data suggests every region will end up with at least Tier 3 restrictions by mid-December.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
Without drastic action, their Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario suggests we we could see 85,000 deaths this winter.
One source said: “It’s definitely too late to think that the two week circuit breaker on its own would sort this.
“It would bring it down a bit, but it wouldn’t be enough to bring it right down. Now almost certainly it would need to go on for longer.”
Back in September, at a press conference Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser made the grim prediction that we would see 50,000 daily cases and 200 deaths a day by mid-November.
His numbers were criticised by other scientists as “not scientifically accurate” and “implausible”.
But today, the latest update from the Office for National Statistics weekly infection survey, suggests around 51,900 new infections each day, in private homes.
Sage papers released today revealed that the group has advised Downing Street on its “reasonable worst case scenario”.
The papers state that this scenario would see 85,000 deaths over the course of winter.
This would equate to more than 500 deaths a day.
Today, the latest figures from the Department of Health show another 274 people have lost their lives to Covid-19, while 24,405 people tested positive.
This brings the total number of cases in the UK to 989,745, and the total number of deaths from the virus to 46,229.
Advisers are also said to be pushing for the closure of pubs and the wider hospitality industry.
In documents dated October 14, Sage warned: “We are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario.
“The number of deaths is now in line with the levels in the RWC and is almost certain to exceed this within the next two weeks.”
Scientists highlighted that if infections were to fall in the “very near future”, we might only see deaths exceed the worst case scenario for three to four weeks.
Sage added: “But if R remains above 1 then the epidemic will further diverge from the planning scenario.”
Figures from the ONS infection survey today revealed that cases of the virus have grown in all age groups – but especially in older teenagers and young adults.
Daily cases have increased by 50 per cent in just a week with 568,000 infected within seven days.
Meanwhile, Sage estimates from six models suggest there could be between 43,000 and 74,000 new infections every day in England.
Sage added: “This is significantly above the profile of the reasonable worst-case scenario, where the number of daily infections in England remained between 12,000 – 13,000 throughout October.”
As infections continue to rise, a number of local councils are in discussion over when their areas will face tougher restrictions.
In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s team are said to be expecting the capital to move into Tier 3 within weeks.
Sources close to City hall said they believe the move is “highly likely”, the Mail reported.
But Government sources have stressed that no decisions are imminent and the latest data on the capital has yet to be crunched.
Nearly a fifth of England’s population – roughly 11 million people – will be living under the most drastic lockdown rules as both Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire were put under Tier 3 restrictions last night.
Tens of millions more Brits are living under Tier 2 measures which ban mixing with households indoors.
A national shut down before Christmas could be on the cards in order to enable families to spend the festive season together.
One local leader today demanded that the government cave to pressure from Sage and introduce a national lockdown.
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said: “The problem is the tier system just isn’t working. Areas in Tier 3 are still seeing rising cases.”
He added: “I am of the opinion England needs to follow France, Germany and Wales with a national circuit-breaker as quickly as possible.
“We must not repeat the mistake of last March in not moving soon enough.”
“The Government must reconsider its position and agree to a circuit-breaker and put the right support in place for jobs and businesses.”
The pressure for a national lockdown in the UK comes as it was this afternoon revealed that the R rate had dropped in the UK.
Rate of infection
The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid-19 on to – is now estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3.
The R rate has dropped again this week and it is the second week in a row that it has fallen.
Last week on October 23, the government announced that the R rate was between 1.2 and 1.4.
The week before, on October 16, it was between 1.3 and 1.5.
R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.
When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.
An R number between 1.1 and 1.3 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 13 other people.
The data also stated that the growth rate sits between two and four per cent.
This means that the number of new infections is growing by two to four per cent every day.