Sir Keir Starmer says new national lockdown should start NOW, not on Thursday as Labour claims vindication on calling for circuit breaker two weeks ago

Sir Keir Starmer last night called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago.

The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week.

He welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to plunge the country into a second shutdown, but told reporters yesterday that it should have happened ‘weeks ago’.

Sir Keir had previously called on the Government to impose a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on the UK for two to three weeks, warning that ‘sacrifices’ would have to be made to suppress the virus.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed’, saying their ‘indecision will have unimaginable consequences’ for ‘lives and livelihoods’.

And Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey called the Tory Government ‘an utter shambles’, tweeting: ‘Through dither and delay they have cost jobs and lives. PM must ensure people have the support they need through this lockdown – and start work on a UK wide plan for Christmas.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the furlough scheme, which ended today, will be extended for a further month, with the Treasury covering 80 per cent of employees’ wages to prevent further unemployment.

But Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham reacted angrily to this, with the Government having refused to grant the subsidy for the region as they battled over Tier 3 measures.

Mr Burnham said that ‘when we asked you to do that for the lowest-paid people in the North, you refused’, adding: ‘People here will remember that.’ Liverpool region mayor Steve Rotheram added: ‘Now we know for sure that the Government thinks workers in the North were worth 13 per cent less than those in the South.’

It comes as the Prime Minister last night announced that England will be plunged into a second shutdown, due to take effect from midnight on Thursday until December 2.

As England braces for a second national lockdown:

  • The UK recorded 326 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 and 21,915 lab-confirmed cases; 
  • The National Education Union called for schools and colleges to be shut as part of the lockdown; 
  • Health Minister said Government could only have predicted need for a second lockdown with ‘crystal ball’;
  • SAGE adviser warned Covid-19 is ‘running riot’ across all age groups and hospitals are at risk of being overrun;
  • Number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 patients being treated;
  • ONS said 50,000 people were being infected with Covid-19 each day, with 274 deaths reported yesterday;
  • A poll by anti-lockdown group Recovery found that more than 70 per cent of people were more worried about the effect of lockdown than they were of catching Covid. 

Sir Keir Starmer last night called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a 'circuit-breaker' two weeks ago. The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week

Sir Keir Starmer last night called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago. The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was 'furious' that the Government had 'dithered and delayed yet again'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed yet again’

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled a new national month-long lockdown to avoid a 'medical and moral disaster' - ordering the public to stay at home until December 2

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled a new national month-long lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’ – ordering the public to stay at home until December 2

Sir Keir told reporters: ‘Everybody is concerned about the rise in infections, the hospital admissions and tragically the number of deaths. That’s why three weeks ago, I called for circuit-break.

Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2

  • Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2. 
  • People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
  • Restaurants and bars will be told to close unless they can operate a takeaway service. 
  • Leisure centres, gyms, sporting venues, hairdressers and beauty parlours will have to close, although professional sport will continue. 
  • Key businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should carry on as before with safety precautions.
  • Places of worship can stay open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family only.  
  • The furlough scheme will be extended during the period of the lockdown, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. 
  • Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted. 
  • When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased.

‘The Government completely rejected that only now to announce the self-same thing. Alas the delay now will cost, the lockdown will be longer, it’ll be harder and there’s a human cost which will be very, very real.

‘Now, there’s no denying these measures are necessary and I’m glad that the Government has finally taken the decision that it should have taken weeks ago.’

He indicated Labour will back the Government in a Commons vote on the shutdown, calling the measures ‘necessary’ but warning against further delay.

Asked about the restrictions not coming into force until Thursday, the Labour leader told reporters that they should be brought in ‘swiftly’.  ‘The last thing we need is days before restrictions come in. If they’re necessary, they’re necessary now,’ he added.

Sir Keir added it was unfair to pretend to the public that Christmas ‘will be normal’, telling reporters: ‘This lockdown is going on to at least December 2, everybody’s seen the figures, and, therefore, I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that Christmas is going to be normal in any sense of the word.

‘I think we need to level with the public on that.

Responding to the No10 press conference, Mr Khan accused the Prime Minister of choosing to ‘completely ignore the expert, scientific advice’.

‘Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,’ the Mayor of London tweeted.

‘The Government’s delay means that case numbers are now too high for a short, sharp, circuit breaker to be effective. This has left the Prime Minister with no choice but to introduce a longer national lockdown.

‘It is absolutely imperative that the Government does not repeat its dithering when it comes to the additional economic support that will now clearly be needed.

‘Ministers have a once-in-a-generation responsibility to provide whatever public funding is needed to prop up our economy and support businesses and jobs through this period of much tighter restrictions. The Chancellor needs to stand up urgently and say that he will do whatever it takes for as long as is needed.’

In his statement on the new lockdown measures in England, Mr Khan added: ‘The Prime Minister has done the right thing by extending the furlough scheme which was due to end tomorrow – but he must immediately confirm that it will be at 80 per cent of wages for everyone who needs it.

‘Government support must also include direct grants and loans for businesses in the sectors likely to be worst affected to be made available now.

‘I would like to make a direct appeal to all Londoners as your Mayor: Thank you for the enormous sacrifices you have made over the last seven months. You may not agree with or like the Government’s latest restrictions.

‘However, we must all follow them. Please continue following the restrictions and public health guidance. We must act to protect each other.

Mr Khan accused the PM of 'completely ignor[ing] the expert, scientific advice'. 'Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,' he tweeted

Mr Khan accused the PM of ‘completely ignor[ing] the expert, scientific advice’. ‘Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,’ he tweeted

Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government's 'inexcusable' 'lack of clarity on support'

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’

‘I know it won’t be easy, but history tells us that Londoners always pull together in times of crisis. We must once again make huge collective sacrifices now in order to prevent even greater suffering later.

‘I will continue to lobby the Government to finally sort out a fully functioning test and trace system and the financial support London needs. I promise you that our city will get through this together.’

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’.

She tweeted: ‘Dither and delay has damaged public health. After the PM’s speech, many will be wondering how they’ll cope – from the self-employed to those on short contracts, and seeking work.’

Boris Johnson brings in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround’ tests for Covid for ‘whole cities’ within days

Boris Johnson will bring in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround tests’ which will see ‘whole cities’ able to tested for Covid within days.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference this evening, as he plunged the nation back into a full lockdown until December 2.

Government scientific advisers have endorsed Mr Johnson’s £100billion Operation Moonshot, which would see 10 million people tested a day regardless of whether they have symptoms, in a paper submitted to Downing St last month.

Population-wide testing has the ability to slash Covid-19’s reproduction rate in half, the experts said.

Britain’s overall R rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is estimated to be as high as 1.5, which has sparked the PM into launching fresh action.

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband slammed the Prime Minister’s ‘terrible misjudgement’ for having ‘delayed necessary for so long’.

He tweeted: ‘Vital now that businesses and workers are properly supported, yet total silence from government on support for the self-employed and grants for most businesses significantly less than in first lockdown.’

Meanwhile, the leader of Bradford Council said the announcement of new coronavirus measures is ‘confusing’ for West Yorkshire residents who had been preparing for Tier 3 restrictions on Monday.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said she had been assured there would not be a national lockdown during discussions with the Government last week about West Yorkshire entering the very high level of measures.

Following the announcement of new national measures by the Prime Minister today, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said the area would no longer enter Tier 3 on Monday as planned.

Ms Hinchcliffe said: ‘I asked the Secretary of State twice last week whether the country was going into national lockdown and was told firmly no.

‘This latest Government announcement, coming only two days after the announcement that Bradford and West Yorkshire was to enter Tier 3 very high restrictions, will understandably therefore be confusing for residents and businesses alike.

‘All the Tier 3 regulations we briefed residents and businesses on on Friday are now irrelevant and we must wait for fresh information from Government on Monday.

‘Just a couple of days ago Government were impressing upon us, as leaders in West Yorkshire, that the health emergency was very urgent.

‘The new Tier 3 restrictions were therefore due to start Monday. Now we hear it’s going to be national restrictions from Thursday.

‘If it was urgent on Thursday, it’s certainly urgent today and I would therefore make a plea to all residents and businesses to be extra careful from now on, don’t wait until Thursday to exercise extra caution.’

‘A devastating blow for industry’: Business leaders despair at new restrictions and it say ‘will be much harder to survive’ – and plead with government to fix testing to avoid a THIRD lockdown

Boris Johnson‘s new raft of restrictions have dealt ‘a devastating blow’ to business communities, the head of British Chambers of Commerce has said.

Industry leaders insist it will now be ‘much harder’ for firms to survive, even as the much-trumpeted furlough scheme was extended for another month, and have pleaded with the government to fix testing to avoid a third lockdown.

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, the PM completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket coronavirus restrictions for England at a press conference alongside medical and science chiefs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

The draconian measures – being billed as ‘Tier Four’ on the government’s sliding scale – come into force from midnight Thursday morning after bleak Sage modelling projected the virus could kill 85,000 this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’.

The brutal squeeze will see non-essential shops in England shut until December 2, as well as bars and restaurants despite the ‘absolutely devastating’ impact on the already crippled hospitality sector.

It emerged earlier this month that the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August as the recovery from the pandemic’s impact stalled despite Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme – down on the 6.4 per cent expansion recorded in July.

On Thursday, it was announced the two million residents in Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield and Kirklees would be subject to Tier 3 restrictions from Monday, after local authorities agreed a financial support package from the Government worth an additional £59.3million.

Ms Hinchcliffe urged residents to stay at home if they could, wash their hands and wear face coverings indoors ahead of the introduction of new measures next week. She added: ‘The infection rate is extremely high and our hospitals are getting an increasing number of admissions.

‘We are determined to work with our West Yorkshire partners to make sure we get the right support for our area so that we limit the damage these restrictions will cause for businesses and communities.’

The Prime Minister effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled the new national lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’.

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, he completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket restrictions for England at a press conference alongside Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

Mr Johnson said the draconian measures – which come into force from midnight Thursday morning until December 2 – were the only way to avert bleak Sage predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’. He said otherwise doctors would have to choose between saving Covid sufferers and those with other illnesses.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the action was not the same as March as key sectors of the economy are under orders to stay open, but said he was ‘under no illusions’ about how tough it would be.

He declared that the furlough scheme will be extended for the period, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. He also refused to rule out extending the measures beyond the proposed end date. Asked if the time would be enough, the premier said: ‘I hope so. We have every reason to believe it will be.’

Announcing the extension of furlough payments for the month of shutdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families. But now – along with many other countries around the world – we face a tough winter ahead.

‘I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses.

‘These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.

North of the border, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Scots not to travel to England unless it is for ‘essential purposes’ as Mr Johnson announced a second national lockdown.

Miss Sturgeon said she and the Scottish Government will seek clarity over the furlough extension announced by Mr Johnson, adding such support would make an impact on decisions previously taken north of the border.

However, she said the devolved administration ‘will take considered decisions based on what is right for Scotland’.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured here in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, has urged Scots not to travel to England as it was announced England would go into a four-week lockdown next week until December 2

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured here in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, has urged Scots not to travel to England as it was announced England would go into a four-week lockdown next week until December 2

Travel firms warn of ‘complete shutdown’ across industry when England reenters shutdown

Travel firms have warned of a ‘complete shutdown’ across the industry when England goes back into lockdown next week.

Travel and overnight stays in the UK and abroad will be restricted when the ‘stay home’ instruction comes into effect nationwide again from Thursday.

According to Government guidance issued on Saturday night: ‘This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.’

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said the rules ‘will mean a complete shutdown for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic’, but added ‘public health must come first’.

Budget airline easyJet has called for ‘urgent’ support for the sector, similar to that which has been provided to hospitality.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘Given the steps the Government has taken, which essentially prevents air travel in the UK, our call for sector specific support has never been more urgent.

‘The Government has recognised the need to directly support the hospitality sector, where decisions have directly affected its ability to trade.

‘The same principle needs to be applied to aviation. The Government’s own statistics show that activity in aviation is already 90% down on pre-pandemic levels, yet to date the Government has still failed to provide any sector specific support.’

The sentiments were echoed by Airlines UK, which said: ‘Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover.’

The trade body has called for ‘a comprehensive restart package’ for the industry.

It said in a statement: ‘This needs to include immediate additional economic support for the winter and steps to support recovery, including urgent rollout of a testing regime, business rates relief for airports, and an emergency waiver of Air Passenger Duty that will be essential for enabling and stimulating international travel – absolutely vital for the UK economy – for as long as we are living with this virus.

‘Hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economic recovery are on the line.’

Miss Sturgeon said the prevalence of the virus is lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, after stricter measures were introduced north of the border in September.

Those saw Scots barred from going into other people’s homes, and the Scottish Government also acted to close bars and restaurants across the central belt in early October.

In Scotland, a new five-tier levels of restriction will come into effect on Monday – with Levels 1, 2 and 3 broadly comparable to the three tiers of restrictions currently in place in England.

In Level 3 areas – the second highest tier in the new Scottish system and which affects the central belt including Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as Ayrshire and Dundee – people are urged not to go outside of their own local authority area.

In a series of tweets urging Scots to stick to the new rules, Ms Sturgeon also said people are being asked not to travel to or from England.

She said: ‘People should not travel to or from Level 3 areas in Scotland and for now, we are asking people not to travel to or from England at all, except for essential purposes.’

With regards to the furlough extension announced by Johnson, Sturgeon said: ‘We expect to have further discussion in the coming days about the scope of additional financial support being made available.

‘A crucial point for us is whether support on the scale announced for English businesses is available for Scottish businesses now or if we needed to impose further restrictions later – or if it is only available if Scotland has a full lockdown at the same time as a lockdown in England.

‘However, notwithstanding the above, today’s developments should be a reminder to people across Scotland of the need to follow the rules and not to put their own twist on them.

‘It is important we all comply with the rules in our area if we are to successfully suppress the virus, protect the NHS and keep as many businesses and services open.’

In another tweet responding to news the extension until December would be UK-wide, she said: ‘This is good and expected. But a key question – is it only available during the period of English lockdown?

‘Or will it be available in event a devolved gov thinks it necessary to have tougher restrictions at a later stage?’

Scottish Government ministers and SNP MPs have made repeated calls for furlough to be extended since Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in September the scheme would end this month.

Miss Sturgeon has also previously warned the new measures in Scotland represent the best chance of avoiding another national lockdown.

She added: ‘People across Scotland have faced significant restrictions since late September as we work to stop the increase in Covid cases across the country.

‘Prevalence of the virus is currently lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK and there are some signs that those earlier restrictions may be starting to slow the rate of increase.

‘We will not hesitate to increase the level of protection either locally or nationally if required. Our new levels approach – including a potential Level 4 – enables us to respond quickly and flexibly as required.

‘We are also asking that people do not travel to England, or from England into Scotland unless absolutely essential, just as we are also asking people not to go to Northern Ireland or to Wales.’

The models that predict up to 4,000 coronavirus deaths a day from the second wave – WORSE than SAGE’s ‘reasonable worst case scenario’

By Jack Wright for MailOnline

England’s chief public health officials last night unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’.

At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College.

They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance said that England is currently experiencing ‘around 50,000 new cases a day’.

Citing Office for National Statistics data, the chief medical officer for England alleged the ‘prevalence of this disease has been going up extremely rapidly over the last few weeks’.

Prof Whitty said that the rate of transmission had been ‘very flat due to the work of everybody in the country over Spring and Summer’ before claiming that NHS England hospitalisations are now rising ‘exponentially’.

He said that the number of people in hospital beds will exceed the peak of the first wave without further measures, adding that there is an increase in prevalence ‘in virtually every part of the country’, apart from possibly the North East where stricter measures are in place, and cases are not constrained to one age group.

The chief medical officer for England said: ‘Currently only in the North West is this coming close to the peak that we previously had, but it is increasing in every area. And if we do nothing, the inevitable result is these numbers will go up and they will eventually exceed the peak that we saw in the spring of this year.’

Sir Patrick, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, then said that if cases keep rising, ‘in terms of deaths over the winter, there’s the potential for this to be twice as bad, or more, compared to the first wave’.

Most of SAGE’s models peak at around 2,000 deaths from the virus per day during the winter and predict  that hospitalisations are likely to peak in mid-December, with deaths rising until at least late December.

Meanwhile, a separate paper circulating in Whitehall warns that the NHS would be unable to accept any more patients by Christmas, even if the Nightingale hospitals were used.

This document, which is based on NHS England modelling from October 28, claims that south-west England and the Midlands will be the first to run out of capacity within two weeks.

It comes as Mr Johnson yesterday announced that England will be plunged into a second national shutdown, due to take effect from midnight on Thursday until December 2.

People must stay at home unless for specific reasons, such as attending school or college, or going to the supermarket, while hospitality venues and non-essential shops will be shut.

Childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, with the Prime Minister telling the press conference: ‘We cannot let this virus damage our children’s futures even more than it has already’.

England's chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE's 'worst cases scenario'. At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson's decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day

England’s chief public health officials unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’. At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College. They show the number of deaths peaking at 4,000 deaths a day without intervention, their reasonable worst case scenario for the winter had predicted a maximum of around 800 deaths a day

Another 326 UK fatalities were declared today - nearly double last Saturday's tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915

Another 326 UK fatalities were declared today – nearly double last Saturday’s tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser

Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer

England’s chief public health officials last night unveiled grim graphs that show how all models of the coronavirus second wave predict the number of deaths will exceed SAGE’s ‘worst cases scenario’

Mr Johnson said it would be a ‘medical and moral disaster, beyond the raw loss of life’ if the NHS was overrun, claiming: ‘The sheer weight of Covid demand would mean depriving tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of non-Covid patients of the care they need.’

The Prime Minister described the pandemic as ‘a constant struggle and a balance that any Government has to make between lives and livelihoods, and obviously lives must come first’.

Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2

  • Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2. 
  • People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
  • Restaurants and bars will be told to shut unless they can operate a takeaway service. 
  • Businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should continue as before. 
  • Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted. 
  • When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased.

He added: ‘Yes it is true that the course of the pandemic has changed and it’s also right that the Government should change and modulate its response in accordance, and I make absolutely no apologies for that.’

Cabinet sources leaked news of the impending month-long shutdown to the Mail last night after the Government’s scientists warned Mr Johnson that Covid-19 cases in the UK are accelerating faster than their worst-case scenario’ of 85,000 coronavirus deaths this winter, with 1,000 deaths a day by December.

Another 326 UK fatalities were declared today – nearly double last Saturday’s tally. But infections, which can represent the current situation more accurately, were down five per cent on a week ago at 21,915.

This week papers from a meeting of the SAGE committee showed that scientists warned ministers two weeks ago that Britain could be headed for a more serious situation than their worst projections.

The document, dated October 14, which was released online, claimed ‘we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario’ before adding that the outlooks for Covid-19’s future spread was ‘concerning’ if no action was taken.

According to briefings from advisers, they believe there is still time to save Christmas with a lockdown of at least a month that closes restaurants, pubs and all but essential shops.

The experts believe soaring cases mean the UK could face 1,000 deaths a day within a month and exceed 85,000 coronavirus deaths. The SAGE papers from two weeks ago warned that modelling suggested that up to 74,000 people a day could be becoming infected in England alone, far beyond the worst case scenario.

There is a lag of around three weeks between infections and deaths. The scientists told ministers that without further restrictions, the death toll will keep rising exponentially, and hospitals will be overwhelmed.

Separate Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures found daily coronavirus infections in England surged by 50 per cent last week. It estimated that almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago.

The weekly update is far lower than another Government-funded study, called REACT-1, which claimed there were 96,000 new cases per day by October 25, putting the current outbreak on par with levels seen in the first wave.

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one last night as he unveiled a dramatic new national month-long lockdown to avoid a 'medical and moral disaster' - ordering the public to stay at home

Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one last night as he unveiled a dramatic new national month-long lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’ – ordering the public to stay at home

At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson's decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College

At the heart of the scientific data supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to plunge England into a second lockdown was a graph comparing the predictions of a number of academic modelling groups including Imperial College

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated almost 52,000 people were catching the virus every day and one in every 100 people in the country were infected with Covid-19 a week ago

Separate data from King's College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising 'steadily' and 'have not spiralled out of control'

Separate data from King’s College London predicted England has around 32,000 cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’

However yesterday, other researchers at King’s College London, predicted England has around 32,000 new symptomatic cases per day and claimed infections are rising ‘steadily’ and ‘have not spiralled out of control’.

Experts say there was ‘no choice’ but to enter 2nd national shutdown

Experts have said that there was ‘no choice’ but to enter a second national lockdown.

Academics have said that the decision was ‘painful but necessary’.

The move could save thousands of lives and prevent the NHS from becoming ‘swamped’, they added.

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘We know how this horrible virus is transmitted.

‘The means we have to intersect the modes of transmission are washing hands, wearing face coverings, keeping our distance, ventilating rooms and seriously limiting our social interactions – this last one is the ultimate weapon in our fight.

‘If we aren’t mixing, the virus hasn’t got a chance of spreading. We are spending more time indoors which is compounding our ability to keep the spread at bay.

‘The numbers right now mean we need to go harder at breaking the transmission. This second lockdown is all about that – us, not the Government, hitting it hard.

‘None of us want this at all. But there is no choice if we are to avoid letting thousands and thousands more die, and the health service swamped to an extent that even non-Covid patients are seriously affected.’

Dr Rupert Beale, from the Francis Crick Institute, said: ‘The decision to enter a second period of national lockdown is a painful one but clearly necessary.

‘I urge everyone to obey the rules: this will ensure we spend the minimum time under these very restrictive and costly measures.

‘The Prime Minister mentioned the imminent arrival of new rapid tests. How effectively these are deployed, and how well our Test, Trace, Isolate and Support system can work will determine whether we will be able to avoid repeated lockdowns.’

Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said: ‘There’s over 11,000 Covid-19 patients in NHS hospitals, with more than 1,000 patients being admitted every day, and increasing numbers of healthcare staff off work with a positive Covid-19 test.

‘That is simply not sustainable.

‘With so much resource dedicated towards infection control, a health service overloaded with severely ill Covid-19 patients cannot also fully accommodate, for example, cancer and stroke patients. Therefore, any intervention that reduces the burdens of Covid-19 is also good for other patients too.

‘These measures should have been announced several weeks ago.

‘However, even at this stage, these newly-announced measures should help to provide some level of control the community transmission.

‘With any significant reduction in cases, the Government simply has to use that ‘breathing space’ to fix the Serco-led contact tracing system.

‘Control of this should be passed over to local health protection teams, ensuring that more contacts of cases are reached, which will help to keep cases at a lower level and minimise the spread of new outbreaks.’

The competing projections have led to confusion over how bad the current rate of coronavirus infections is. Professor Tim Spector, the epidemiologist behind the King’s study, said the spread of Covid-19 currently appears ‘steady’ and may even be slowing in Scotland. The team estimated that Britain’s cases are doubling once a month.

The worrying figures from SAGE are behind the Prime Minister’s  decision to announce a new national lockdown after his scientific advisers told him it was the only way to save Christmas..

SAGE – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which is made up of senior scientists and disease experts -presented their analysis to the Government on October 14.

They warned: ‘In England, we are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario that is based on Covid’s winter planning strategy.

‘The number of daily deaths is now in line with the levels in the Reasonable Worst Case and is almost certain to exceed this within the next two weeks.’

They added: ‘There is complete consensus in SPI-M-O that the current outlook for the epidemic’s trajectory is concerning, if there are no widespread decisive interventions or behavioural changes in the near term.’

The SAGE scientists did say that if the number of new infections were to fall in the ‘very near future’ then the reasonable worst case scenario may ‘only continue for three to four weeks.’

However, they warned that if the ‘R’ rate were to remain above 1 then the epidemic ‘will further diverge from the planning scenario.’

The Government-funded REACT study at Imperial College London predicted that the R rate across all of England had climbed to 1.6 – the highest since the first lockdown.  It added it could be as high as 2.8 in London.

When the R rate is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially. An R of 1.8 would mean on average every 10 people infected will infect 28 other people.

SAGE’s latest official R rate estimates did claim the figure had dropped and estimated it stood between 1.1 and 1.3 both nationally and in London. Either way, there appears to be consensus that the infection rate remains above 1.

The committee had called for the Government to follow the footsteps of Germany and France by retreating back into a full national shutdown ‘for at least a month’ because they said the three-tiered system was failing.

It comes as experts claimed the NHS could be overwhelmed ‘within weeks’ without drastic action to tackle the spread of Covid-19, in a repeat of warnings made to lock-down the country in March.

Ministers fear that hospitals could fill up with rising coronavirus admissions. Without action to stem the tide of cases, it would be ‘impossible’ for the health service to cope in the coming weeks, academics said.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘Doctors and scientists agree that none of the current restrictions have been enough to stop the virus spreading.

‘Without a change, the NHS would have been overwhelmed within weeks and it would have been difficult if not impossible to cope in the winter months with the inevitable increase in caring for people with Covid as well as non-Covid illnesses. There’s absolutely no doubt that many more of us would have seen loved ones die, suffer with long-term Covid symptoms or from other illnesses.’

‘The only way to get things back to normal quickly is to get the virus under control as soon as possible.’

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, added: ‘None of us want this at all. But it now seems there is no choice if we are to avoid letting thousands and thousands more die, and the health service swamped to an extent that even non-Covid patients are seriously affected.’

Above are the Covid-19 infection rates in London boroughs for the week ending October 24, according to official data

Above are the Covid-19 infection rates in London boroughs for the week ending October 24, according to official data

Almost 20 NHS trusts in England are already treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave, according to official statistics that come amid warnings hospitals across the country could run out of beds before Christmas

Almost 20 NHS trusts in England are already treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave, according to official statistics that come amid warnings hospitals across the country could run out of beds before Christmas

The Government's SAGE advisers released papers yesterday evening that showed how they warned ministers two weeks ago that Britain could be headed for a more serious situation than their 'worst case scenario'

The Government’s SAGE advisers released papers yesterday evening that showed how they warned ministers two weeks ago that Britain could be headed for a more serious situation than their ‘worst case scenario’

The news comes as the UK recorded more than one million lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, according to Government data. And hospitals are feeling the pressure as cases rise.

There are now almost 11,000 people in hospitals across the UK – including 978 on ventilators. And many hospitals are treating more patients than they were at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.

In September, the Government’s chief scientific officer warned that the UK could be facing 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October, leading to 200 deaths a day a month later. But the Government said a further 326 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday.

Figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 62,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, the Prime Minister completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket coronavirus restrictions for England at a press conference after 6.30pm.

The brutal squeeze will see non-essential shops in England shut until December 2, alongside bars and restaurants despite the ‘absolutely devastating’ impact on the already crippled hospitality sector.

Households are banned from mixing indoors during the period, and travel within the UK heavily discouraged.  However, unlike the March lockdown schools and universities are expected to remain open.

The careful choreography of the announcement has been torn up after leaks overnight caused a storm, with Downing Street launching a hunt for the mole amid fresh evidence of Cabinet splits.

Mr Johnson previously slapped down demands for a ‘circuit-breaker’ – a form of which has already been implemented in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – instead extolling the virtues of his ‘tiered’ system.

Data from King's College London's Covid Symptom Study app shows that coronavirus cases in the UK have soared to more than 40,000 per day after a lull in the summer but the team behind it maintain that they 'have not spiralled out of control'

Data from King’s College London’s Covid Symptom Study app shows that coronavirus cases in the UK have soared to more than 40,000 per day after a lull in the summer but the team behind it maintain that they ‘have not spiralled out of control’

The North of England and the Midlands remain worst affected by Covid-19, the King's team predicts, with per-person infection rates also high in Scotland, Wales, London and university cities in the South of England including Bristol, Bournemouth, Exeter and Brighton

The North of England and the Midlands remain worst affected by Covid-19, the King’s team predicts, with per-person infection rates also high in Scotland, Wales, London and university cities in the South of England including Bristol, Bournemouth, Exeter and Brighton

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