The coronavirus alert level is set to be raised from 3 to 4 for the first time since June due to fears about the rising infection rate.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended the change, meaning transmission of the virus is ‘high or rising exponentially’.
It was last changed on Friday June 19 when it was lowered from from 4 to 3. Prior to this, the alert level had been at 4 since the system was set up in May.
In a joint statement released this afternoon, the chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said that all four nations of the UK should now move to level 4.
They said: ‘After a period of lower Covid cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.
‘If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly.
‘We know this will be concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.’
It’s the latest sign that authorities are deeply concerned about the rise in coronavirus cases across the UK.
Another 4,368 daily cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours – the third day of four that infection numbers have been above 4,000.
Earlier Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance held a joint press conference in which they warned case numbers could reach 50,000 a day by mid-October, unless more action is taken to reduce the spread of infection.
While daily deaths currently remain low, the advisers warned the UK could expect to see rising case numbers translate to a higher death toll imminently.
Government data released today showed 205 people with Covid-19 were admitted to hospital on Friday – the most since June 27, when the figure was 209.
Boris Johnson is set to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee tomorrow to discuss the next move in the fight to combat the virus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said raising the Covid-19 alert level reflects a ‘significant shift’ in the threat posed to the UK.
He said: ‘This country now faces a tipping point in its response and it is vital everybody plays their part now to stop the spread of the virus and protect lives.
‘The first line of defence has always been all of us playing our part, remembering hands, face and space, the rule of six and self-isolation of those who risk passing on the virus.’
News – Coronavirus alert level raised to 4 for first time since June