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Boris Johnson is considering a month-long lockdown to begin in England next week in a bid to ease infection rates in order to allow a relaxation of lockdown rules over Christmas. The Prime Minister may bring in a “stay at home” order that would be exempt for schools, colleges, and universities. However, Good Morning Britain’s doctor Hilary Jones has warned a “lockdown free” Christmas could create a sudden surge in coronavirus infections.
The same would be true if a lockdown was introduced but widely ignored by families desperate to reunite over Christmas.
Dr Jones said: “There’s huge popularity for the idea of families being able to get together at Christmas.
“And, therefore, this idea has been moved to understand to have a lockdown two weeks before Christmas, perhaps have two days over Christmas and then two weeks after Christmas.
“There’s pros and cons.
“First of all, some people the risk of transmission in these two days is low but, actually, I don’t think it is.
“It’s millions of people wanting to get together with their families and the virus only takes a matter of minutes or hours to transmit when you’re in close contact with people you’re friendly with or very intimate with.”
The news comes as West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson outlined their planned tactics over Christmas.
He told the Telegraph: “If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene.
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“If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.”
Official government documents from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have found coronavirus is spreading much faster in England than the “worst-case” scenario that was modelled for this winter.
The “worst-case” scenario had estimated 85,000 deaths from the pathogen over the winter period.
However, the SAGE report has since concluded the trajectory of fatalities will be greater than the predicted “worst-case” scenario.
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The SAGE report from 14 October said: “This is significantly above the profile of the reasonable worst-case scenario, where the number of daily infections in England remained between 12,000-13,000 throughout October.”
The SAGE scientists are now advising the government to implement a “circuit-breaker” lockdown now so the coronavirus reproduction rate can be eased in time for Christmas.
Lucy Powell, the Labour Party’s shadow business minister, told BBC Breakfast a national lockdown would now come “too late” to reduce infection rates in time for Christmas.
She added: “The government’s dithering on this now means we’ve missed the half-term holiday when it could have had the most impact.
“We could have saved more of the economy and reduced the impact of lockdown with a shorter, earlier circuit-breaker that coincided with half term.”
But the chief executive of UK Hospitality Kate Nicholls has warned a complete lockdown would be “absolutely devastating” for the sector that she represents.
She tweeted: “This is surely not a price worth paying to eradicate the virus.
“The answer is it is too high a price and even if we paid it, it won’t, it just pauses the virus.”
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