One of the government’s top coronavirus advisers has warned the UK could face “waves and waves” of fresh COVID-19 outbreaks.
Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, also reiterated a second “peak” cannot be ruled out.
The stern warning comes just two days before England’s most significant easing of lockdown restrictions so far, with businesses including pubs, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to reopen on Saturday.
Meanwhile, schools are set to fully reopen in September.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Thursday, Dr Harries said: “A second wave is quite a possibility – that is not ruled out at all. A second peak, as in an epidemic peak, is also not ruled out.
“In fact, in pandemics you can sometimes see successive ones – so we’re talking about a second, but you can get waves and waves.”
Dr Harries said the local lockdown in Leicester is an example of what is “much more likely to happen as we go forwards”.
Last week, having announced the 4 July easing of the lockdown, the prime minister promised he will “take responsibility” if the country suffers a second wave.
Johnson will front another Downing Street press conference on Friday as he addresses the nation ahead of the lifting of the restrictions, which will also allow two households to meet and for people to stay overnight.
On Wednesday, there were 829 new COVID-19 cases. At the peak of the pandemic on 10 April, there were 8,681 cases announced.
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