There are new lockdown fears amid warnings of high deaths as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns tighter restrictions will be needed to combat the ‘inevitable second wave’
Get our daily coronavirus email newsletter with all the news you need to know direct to your inbox
The whole of England could be put into a two-week lockdown in a bid to prevent a spike in deaths as Covid-19 cases carry on soaring.
Struggling pubs and restaurants could once again close after Boris Johnson admitted a second wave is “inevitable”.
More areas this week face new curbs, but Mr Johnson said: “You have to wonder whether we need to go further.”
With coronavirus cases on the rise again, health experts warn deaths could soar unless urgent action is taken to tackle the crisis.
And Mr Johnson refused to rule out a two-week national lockdown as he admitted a second wave was close.
Large swathes of England will be given tough new curbs from Tuesday – adding to those already hit by local restrictions on socialising.
And a “circuit break” countrywide lockdown could be announced within days, with plans to close pubs and restaurants being considered.
The move will strike dread into the owners of businesses still struggling to get back on their feet.
But after the R rate rose to between 1.1 and 1.4, experts fear a significant number of deaths by the end of October without further intervention.
Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle said: “We’re seeing clear signs this virus is now spreading widely across all age groups. I am worried by the increase in rates of admission to hospital and intensive care among older people.
There were 4,322 new Covid-19 cases in the UK yesterday and the death toll climbed by 27 to 41,732.
Mr Johnson was asked about a two-week lockdown in England when he visited the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre site near Oxford. It would hit almost 56 million people.
“But clearly when you look at what is happening, you have to wonder whether we need to go further than the ‘rule of six’ we have brought in.
“So we will be looking at the local lockdowns we have got, looking at what we can do to intensify things that help bring the rate of infection down there, but also looking at other measures.
“We’re looking carefully at the spread of the pandemic and there’s no question that we are now seeing a second wave coming in.
“We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe. It has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.”
Mr Johnson was also asked about the possibility of a two-week October half-term break for schools.
He replied: “We want to keep the schools open. We want to try to keep all parts of the economy open.”
Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire in the North West will have restrictions imposed from Tuesday, including table service only at pubs, a 10pm curfew on leisure and entertainments venues and a ban on people socialising with other households.
Curbs will apply in the towns of Oadby and Wigston, Leics, as well as the areas of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale in West Yorkshire.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are acting decisively to support them.
“I know these restrictions will make everyday life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.”
The nationwide “circuit-break” plan came after Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned of another serious outbreak.
But Edinburgh University epidemiology expert Professor Rowland Kao warned two weeks may not be enough to stop the rise of Covid-19.
He said: “While a two-week lockdown will reduce the infection rate, the danger is that it is uncertain whether something less than the total lockdown of March will have enough of an impact to actually reduce R below one.
“If it does not, the pressures on Test and Trace and the risks to the vulnerable, including those in hospitals, will keep on increasing.”
Mr Johnson came under fire for not holding a Cobra meeting on the pandemic since May.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called on him to convene one. He said: “There is mounting concern about whether we have got the virus sufficiently under control.
“This is the time for swift, decisive national action. We cannot afford to be too slow.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan axed the capital’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display on the Thames.
In Wales, the R rate is between 0.7 and 1.2 and in Scotland between 1.1 and 1.5.
News – Two-week Covid-19 lockdown for 56million as England warned ‘far worse to come’