BRITAIN faces the prospect of more lockdowns by Christmas and daily cases could hit 200,000 in weeks, a leading scientist has warned.
Professor Neil Ferguson – dubbed ‘Professor Lockdown’ – said he “can’t be certain” over whether restrictions will be reimposed after tomorrow’s unlocking.
Appearing by the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show if there was a likelihood of a return to restrictions, Prof Ferguson stressed it would be a decision for the government to make.
He said: “Clearly, if we end up in a more, let’s say, worst-case scenario … at the higher end of the modelling and the projections of two, three thousand hospital admissions per day, there may be a need to basically slow spread to some extent.”
Asked if there could be a lockdown again before Christmas, he replied: “You’re asking me about six months ahead, that’s harder.”
He added: “I hope not, but I can’t be certain.”
Prof Ferguson said that the grim prospect of 100,000 cases a day was “almost inevitable” as the Delta variant continues to spread.
He continued: “I mean, we could get to 2,000 hospitalisations a day, 200,000 cases a day, but it’s much less certain.
“There, you are talking about major disruption of services and cancellation of elective surgery and the backlog in the NHS, getting longer and longer.”
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Yesterday, Covid cases rose by 70 per cent in a week as 54,674 new infections were reported.
Deaths have increased by 41, bringing the total to 128,683.
The third wave is expected to peak in August with a cabinet minister today warning of “challenging weeks ahead”.
Robert Jenrick called on Brits to exercise “good judgment” as restrictions are lifted, and admitted the country was at a “critical stage”.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government minister told Sky News: “We won’t really expect this wave of the virus to peak until late August, maybe even early September so there are going to be some quite challenging weeks ahead.”
But in a more positive development, Sajid Javid today announced that every British adult had been offered their first dose of the vaccine.
The health secretary hailed the “phenomenal national effort” as he urged younger Brits to come forward and take the jab.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has shelved plans for a “Churchillian” Freedom Day speech tomorrow to celebrate the lifting of restrictions amid self-isolation chaos.
Officials had wished to mark the event by having Mr Johnson speak at a historic venue associated with Churchill – though scientific advisers were spooked when the UK recorded over 50,000 infections yesterday.
It comes after a string of former cabinet ministers and scientific experts hit out at Freedom Day plans yesterday.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that restrictions will have to be reimposed if Covid hospitalisations exceed the daily peak of the first wave.
He said the situation was “very serious” and the Government would face “difficult decisions” in the months ahead as cases rise.
Mr Hunt, who is now chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, told BBC Radio 4: “The warning light on the NHS dashboard is not flashing amber, it is flashing red.
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“Covid hospital patients are doubling every two weeks. That means we are heading for 10,000 Covid hospital patients by the end of August, which is about 20 times higher than this time last year. It is a very serious situation.
“I think coming into September we are almost certainly going to see infections reach a new daily peak going above the 68,000 daily level, which was the previous daily record in January.
“If they are still going up as the schools are coming back I think we are going to have to reconsider some very difficult decisions.”