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Without preventive action, UK may face 50,000 Covid cases a day by October

Bloomberg | Updated on September 22, 2020 Published on September 22, 2020

Members of the public arrive at a NHS Covid-19 testing clinic in London on Monday, September 21. Britain is at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be told on Monday, as concern mounts that a second lockdown may be needed to stop the renewed spread of the disease   -  Bloomberg

“But if we go too far the other way, then we can cause damage to the economy which can feed through to unemployment, to poverty, to deprivation: Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer

The UK is on course for 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October if urgent measures are not taken to prevent the spread of the disease, the governments chief scientific adviser said.

That infection rate would likely lead to more than 200 deaths per day in mid-November, Patrick Vallance warned in a live TV broadcast on Monday. Cases are increasing, hospitalisations are following, he said. Deaths unfortunately will follow that, and there’s the potential for this to move very fast.

Also read: In combating Covid-19 spread, Europe runs into limits on ‘mass testing’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out further restrictions on Tuesday, as ministers try to strike a balance between stamping down on the pandemic and avoiding a full lockdown that would snuff out the recovery after the economy plunged into its deepest recession for more than 100 years.

On ITV earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government’s plans have not been finalised, though he reiterated the government is determined to keep schools open and the economy running as much as possible.

Testing data show social activities -- rather than the reopening of schools and offices -- are the main reason for the recent surge, Hancock said, indicating that will be the government’s focus with new rules. Pressed on whether pubs will have to close, Hancock said: It’s not a no and it’s not a yes.

The latest government statistics, released on Sunday, showed a further 3,899 daily Covid cases and 18 deaths in the UK Vallance said the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.

The figures showed that without action, the UK is on course for as many as 49,000 cases per day by October 13. Vallance said that these 50,000 new daily infections would be followed a month later by around 200 deaths per day, if steps are not taken to tackle the outbreak and the disease continues to spread at current rates. He emphasised that this was a modelling projection, not a prediction of what will happen.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, sitting alongside Vallance, said the UK must take Covid-19 very seriously for the next six months as the country enters the more dangerous autumn and winter months. He said there was no evidence the virus is milder now than it was in the spring.

Also read: WHO Europe sees Covid death toll rising during autumn

“If we do too little, this virus will go out of control and you will get significant numbers of increased direct and indirect deaths,” Whitty said. But if we go too far the other way, then we can cause damage to the economy which can feed through to unemployment, to poverty, to deprivation -- all of which have long-term health effects.

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Published on September 22, 2020
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