Watch: Warning there could be 50,000 daily new cases of coronavirus by mid-October
There could be almost 50,000 new daily cases of coronavirus by mid-October and 200 new daily deaths by mid-November, the government’s chief scientific adviser has warned.
In a televised address on Monday morning, Sir Patrick Vallance said there could be 49,000 new COVID-19 cases in the UK on 13 October if the current rate of infection continues.
That could lead to 200 new deaths per day a month later, he warned.
The figure is based on projections of case numbers doubling every seven days.
Sir Patrick said the figure of 49,000 from an “example scenario” was “not a prediction”.
It was calculated based on four doublings from 3,015 new cases on 15 September.
He said: “This is how quickly this can move if the doubling time stays at seven days.”
He added: "At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.
"If, and that's quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days... if that continued you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.
"50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November say, to 200-plus deaths per day.
"The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days."
Sir Patrick was speaking alongside England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty. The pair warned the UK is at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes as it emerged Boris Johnson spent the weekend considering whether to introduce a second coronavirus lockdown in England.
He is reportedly considering a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that final decisions were still being made but hinted at curbs to households socialising.
He told ITV’s This Morning: “I think the main thing in terms of what we learnt is that where people catch the disease tends to be in social settings, people coming around to your house, or you going out and socialising essentially.
“We’ve seen relatively few cases caught through schools and relatively few through people at work.”
Prof Whitty also hinted that curbs to social lives were needed to prevent coronavirus spiralling out of control, saying there was a need to “break unnecessary links” between households and a need to “change course”.
He said there were four things to do – washing hands and using masks, quarantine measures, and investing in vaccines and drugs.
“The third one, and in many ways the most difficult, is that we have to break unnecessary links between households because that is the way in which this virus is transmitted,” he said.
“And this means reducing social contacts whether they are at work, and this is where we have enormous gratitude to all the businesses for example who have worked so hard to make their environments Covid-secure to reduce the risk, and also in social environments.
“We all know we cannot do this without some significant downsides.
“This is a balance of risk between if we don’t do enough the virus will take off – and at the moment that is the path we’re clearly on – and if we do not change course we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem.”
Prof Whitty warned the country should be braced for a tough winter, adding that colder months were known to benefit respiratory viruses.
“So we should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively, it’s not indefinite,” he said.
On Sunday, there was a backlash following reports the government will lift the rule of six for 24 hours on Christmas Day to allow families to see each other.
Hancock has said he would report a neighbour to police for breaking COVID-19 self-isolation rules.
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