Britain at ‘critical point’ in pandemic, top scientists will warn

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Whitty says Britain has reached 'critical point' ahead of briefing tomorrow morning
Professor Chris Whitty will explain the ways the virus is spreading in a televised briefing on Monday (Picture: Getty/Reuters)
Britain at ‘critical point’ in pandemic, top scientists will warn View 12 comments Elisa MenendezMonday 21 Sep 2020 7:13 am Share this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messenger 296 SHARES Professor Chris Whitty will explain the ways the virus is spreading in a televised briefing on Monday (Picture: Getty/Reuters) Britons will be warned that the UK is at a ‘critical point’ in the coronavirus pandemic by No 10’s top scientists this morning, as they lay the ground for new stricter measures. In a televised briefing on Monday at 11am, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance will tell the public that the country faces a ‘very challenging winter’, as they explain how the virus is spreading in the UK and Europe. The chief medical officer for England and the chief scientific adviser to the government will warn that the current trend of the virus is heading ‘in the wrong direction’, as infection rates continue to soar. Boris Johnson is also expected to address the nation as early as Tuesday to set out new measures, after the health secretary warned that the country is at ‘tipping point’ of a second peak.
The PM spent the weekend with senior ministers and advisers discussing what action to take as the rise in the number of new cases showed no sign of slowing. Among the measures being considered is a temporary two-week ‘circuit break’ national lockdown, along with a ban on households mixing and a pub curfew.

 Shoppers in Liverpool city centre on Saturday.
Ministers are urgently looking at ways of curbing the spread of the virus as a second peak looms (Picture: Rex)

Downing Street announced over the weekend that anyone in England refusing to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000. Johnson is desperate to avoid another nationwide lockdown amid concerns about the effect on the economy, just as activity was beginning to pick up again. During today’s briefing, Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick will draw on data from other countries such as Spain and France, which are seeing a second peak, to underline how their experience could be replicated in the UK. Prof Whitty is expected to say: ‘The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.

People attend a walk in Covid-19 testing centre on September 17, 2020 in Bolton, England.
People have desperately been trying to get hold of coronavirus tests for days (Picture: Getty)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for tighter restrictions to be imposed on the capital from Monday, adding that the public has been ‘let down catastrophically’ by the ‘hapless government’. He said London is not weeks but just ‘two or three days’ behind the North West and North East, where further measures have been imposed. Matt Hancock yesterday refused to rule out a second national lockdown in England, if people fail to follow the social distancing rules and the latest ‘rule of six’ measures.

A waitress wearing a protective face covering brings drinks to customers in the late summer sunshine at outside tables in Soho, central London on September 20, 2020 as the British government consider fresh nationwide restrictions after an rise in cases of the novel coronavirus.
Among measures being considered is a pub curfew (Picture: AFP)
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Witty attends a virtual press conference at Downing Street on September 9, 2020 in London, England.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty will set out the latest data on the virus in the UK and Europe (Picture: Getty)
The health secretary said he was ‘very worried’ about the latest data which suggested Britain could be on the same path as Spain and France – where deaths and hospitalisations are ‘shooting through the roof’ – without effective action. He added that hospital admissions for coronavirus are doubling ‘every eight days or so’ and will see ‘the number of people dying sadly rise’, if further action is not taken. Another 3,899 cases were reported in the UK on Sunday, while a further 18 people died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 41,777.