UK could face second lockdown 'within months, if not weeks', public health adviser warns

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Members of the public are seen at a bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter on the weekend pubs reopened following months of lockdown. (AP)

The UK faces a second wave of coronavirus in as little as a few weeks, according to a professor of global public health.

Devi Sridhar, who acts as the public health adviser for Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, warned of “constant outbreaks” as lockdown restrictions ease across the country.

She tweeted: “I know that everyone wants the economy to go full steam ahead in the UK. But I fear we will be in another lockdown within months, if not weeks…

“Eliminate the virus over the summer then open up safely. Otherwise enter winter & flu season in a dangerous halfway house.”

Sridhar’s warning comes just days after pubs, restaurants and bars reopened in England, in what was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

The government is also expected to announce that indoor gyms will reopen by the middle of July, providing strict social distancing measures are upheld.

Sturgeon will also confirm on Thursday if Scotland can move into the third phase of its plan for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Phase three would see customers able to return to hairdressers, restaurants and drink inside pubs, although the first minister has suggested that not all restrictions would be lifted at the same time.

Sturgeon has also said that tourists travelling to Scotland from Spain will have to continue to quarantine.

She said the 14-day quarantine restriction will be lifted on 10 July for people returning or visiting from 39 countries with a low prevalence of COVID-19, including Germany, Norway and Malta.

Continuing her warning, Sridhar added: “I know the economy is suffering and jobs are being lost. I recognise the toll that lockdown has taken and I’m not ‘pro-lockdown’ at all.

“In fact my worry is about a second lockdown and how to avoid this happening. Lockdown/release cycles will destroy society and the economy.”

Last week, scientists warned that the UK is heading for a second wave of coronavirus in winter as lockdown restrictions eased.

Men order beer behind a safety screen at the Forester pub in London on 'Super Saturday'. (AP)

In an open letter to the government, they wrote: "Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.

"The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.”

Both the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty have previously stressed the easing of restrictions was not a "risk-free" move.

Whitty said it was "absolutely critical" that people continued to observe social distancing, taking steps to mitigate the spread of the disease when it was not possible to stay two metres apart.

Social distancing signs on London pavements. (Getty)

He warned the virus was likely to be present in the UK until at least the spring of 2021 and that if people returned to their normal patterns of behaviour "we will get an uptick for sure”.

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