Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said preventative measures such as working from home and mask-wearing are “so important” as the country attempts to battle back against the spread of coronavirus. Covid infections have been rapidly on the rise over recent days, and on Friday the Government confirmed a further 49,298 lab-confirmed cases, along with another 180 people who had died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.
Infections in Britain had surged by 17.9 percent over the last seven days after 52,009 new cases were reported on Thursday, with the reproduction “R” number estimated to be between 1.0 and 1.2.
Average daily hospital admissions in England of people with Covid have also jumped to their highest level in nearly eight months.
NHS England said on October 20, the even-day average stood at 821 admissions.
This was up 23 percent from the previous week, and the highest since February 27 when the average stood at 859.
But Professor Openshaw of Imperial College London told BBC Breakfast: “I think we all are desperate to get back to normal life and I can absolutely understand why the Government is listening to pressure from industry and its own inclinations to really open up, but the figures at the moment really do show we’ve got too many cases out there.
“It’s just, I think, unacceptable to be letting this run at the moment.”
Boris Johnson has so far resisted calls from health leaders to reintroduce stricter restrictions to curb the rising level of infections.
Earlier this week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned new infections could reach 100,000 a day but insisted there was still enough capacity in the NHS and that the stated Plan B would only come into force if the health service came under “significant pressure”.
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“The immediacy of response is absolutely vital if you’re going to get things under control.
He added: “We all really, really want a wonderful family Christmas where we can all get back together.
“If that’s what we want, we need to get these measures in place now in order to get transmission rates right down so that we can actually get together and see one another over Christmas.”
On Friday, the Prime Minister insisted another Covid lockdown is not on the cards and that there is no need to introduce a “Plan B” yet, which would involve mask mandates, work-from-home orders and vaccine passports.
He said while case numbers are on the rise, the trend was in line with what was expected.
When asked about the possibility of another lockdown over winter, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve got to tell you at the moment that we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that is on the cards at all.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also told The Times the country could not return to “significant economic restrictions” and that the successful vaccine rollout means this is not necessary.