National lockdown 'could be announced in next week' as cases surge

A two-week national lockdown in October ‘could be announced in the next week’ as coronavirus rates surge across the country.

In a Government meeting held on Wednesday night, the UK’s top scientists suggested half-term could be a good time to shut the country down so schools could remain untouched, Financial Times claims.

A separate report from the BBC claims the ‘circuit break of a few weeks’ would see schools and most workplaces remain open but hospitality businesses would be forced to shut.

No firm decisions have been made yet, but the government’s chief scientific adviser and medical officer predicted a ‘significant number of deaths’ by the end of October if no action is taken, Financial Times said.

Boris Johnson has previously said he is against a second national lockdown and is believed to have told scientists it would be ‘disastrous’ for the economy.

A Government source said: ‘There’s a difference between not wanting to go back to another lockdown and having to go back.’

It comes as the number of positive cases doubles every seven to eight days in England, according to statistical analysis from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori.

A SAGE scientist has reportedly warned the NHS will be ‘broken’ if the R Rate continues at the same level. They added that the Government’s controversial test-and-trace system is already ‘creaking at the seams’.

Much of the decision on the second national lockdown relies on the success of the ‘rule of six’.

The Government source said: ‘If it doesn’t work, a whole range of unpalatable options come into view.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this morning a new national lockdown would be the ‘last line of defence’ against coronavirus, but the Government ‘will do whatever is necessary’.

Health Minister Edward Argar also played down the idea of a second lockdown on Thursday, saying: ‘It is not something I have heard about, but it’s not something I have seen within the department.

‘The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. He doesn’t want to see another national lockdown.’

It comes as two million people in the north-east are plunged into local lockdown today, with Matt Hancock reportedly set to announce similar restrictions in Lancashire this morning.

The country is currently amid a testing ‘shambles’, with thousands unable to get their hands on one and Matt Hancock admitting tests will need to be given to priority groups first.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation expert Dr David Nabarro has warned the world is ‘only at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic’, adding: ‘We’re not even in the middle of it yet’.

Commenting on reports of a second national lockdown, a government spokesperson said: ‘The government is continuing to closely monitor infection levels and taking decisive action to protect people such as introducing local lockdowns and banning gatherings of groups larger than six.

‘Scientific and medical professionals have provided advice throughout the pandemic.’

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