The country, the epicenter of the new variant, is entering “a new very dangerous phase of the pandemic,” said the main government adviser.
The UK government must introduce tougher coronavirus lockdown rules to prevent another wave of deaths from a new strain of the disease, a leading epidemiologist and government adviser is warning.
Britain reported 41,385 new COVID cases on Monday, the highest number since tests became widely available in mid-2020, and English hospitals say they have more COVID patients than in the first wave of the pandemic in April.
“We are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic, and we are going to need decisive and early national action to avert a catastrophe in January and February,” said Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Tuesday. University College London. .
More than 71,000 people in Britain have died within 28 days of testing positive for the disease.
Hayward, who sits on a UK government advisory body on respiratory disease, said the new strain of COVID that more easily infected people meant that existing lockdown measures in England would likely not be enough to slow the spread of the disease. disease.
On December 26, the UK government extended the strictest level of COVID restrictions, under which non-essential retailers are closed and people typically cannot meet in person, to cover nearly half of the UK population.
Hayward told the BBC that these curbs still need to be extended.
“We are really looking at a situation where we are heading towards a virtual lockdown,” he said.
Schools in England are set to reopen for many students on January 4. Hayward said that from a purely epidemiological standpoint it would make sense to keep them closed for longer, but the difficulties poor students face in learning online meant holding back other areas of the public’s life. might be preferable.
Authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are setting their own policies on schools and measures to fight COVID.