A further 12,872 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as the country’s daily case total stays above the 10,000 mark for an entire week.
Some 65 more people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 – nearly double the 33 deaths recorded last week.
The rising number comes as a top scientist warned that a second national lockdown is a possibility as Britain faces a ‘precarious position’ with rising coronavirus case numbers, hospital admissions and deaths.
The UK death coronavirus toll in hospitals has risen by 35, the highest Sunday total since early June. 32 deaths were reported in England, and there were two deaths in Wales and one in Northern Ireland but none in Scotland
Professor Peter Horby, of the University of Oxford, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the country was in a ‘precarious position’ with rising coronavirus case numbers, hospital admissions and deaths.
Prof Horby, who is also chairman of the Government advisory group for new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (Nervtag), said that hospitals in parts of northern England were already starting to come under pressure.
He said that stringent measures were needed to halt the spread of the virus and added: ‘We are already seeing in some parts of the North that some hospitals are starting to see the pressure.
Professor Peter Horby, of the University of Oxford, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the country was in a ‘precarious position’ with rising coronavirus case numbers
‘We have a doubling time of about eight to 15 days so it is not long before those ICU (intensive care unit) beds could be full and we could be in a really difficult situation.
‘So I am afraid we are going to have to make some very difficult choices and act very quickly.’
When asked if the country faced a second national lockdown, he said: ‘I think that’s a possibility and we have to do what we can to avoid that at all costs.’
His comments come as the Prime Minister is set to detail a new three-tier system of restrictions with measures expected to force pubs and restaurants to shut across the North of England and see millions of people banned from mixing indoors and outdoors.
When asked why case numbers were much higher in the North, Prof Horby said they had not been as low as the rest of the country and people were having more contact with others.
Prime Minister is set to detail a new three-tier system of restrictions with measures expected to force pubs and restaurants to shut across the North of England and see millions of people banned from mixing indoors and outdoors
An empty looking Mathew Street in Liverpool, the latest area of the north of England to be hit by local restrictions preventing households from mixing
He added: ‘There’s two primary reasons. One is that in the North the numbers never really got down as low as they did in the rest of the country.
‘Those parts of the country were at a higher starting point.
‘Second, we saw that over the summer that the surveys were showing that the number of contacts that people were having with each other were not as low in those parts of the country as elsewhere.
‘The underlying reasons for those two things are complex and may well be related to different labour markets, housing density, deprivation, et cetera.’
But Prof Horby said that the risk of death for Covid-19 patients in hospitals was falling and treatments were improving.
He added: ‘It appears the risk of death in hospitalised patients is coming down.
Government data shows that the North West and North East and Yorkshire are the only regions to have seen a sustained and sharp increase in people being admitted to hospital (line graphs show daily hospital admissions between April and October)
‘It was pretty high at about 25 per cent to 30 per cent in the last wave. It looks like it’s coming down to below 20 per cent.
Millions of people across the North are expected to face draconian new measures when Boris Johnson sets out the details of a new three-tier local lockdown system in a speech to MPs.
On Saturday, England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam warned the country had reached a ‘tipping point’ as 15,166 more infections and 81 deaths were recorded.
He said that while the epidemic ‘re-started’ again among younger people over the past few weeks, there is ‘clear evidence of a gradual spread into older age groups’ in the worst-hit areas.
But he also said the UK has ‘much improved testing capabilities’ and ‘better treatments’ available, meaning that ‘we know where it is and how to tackle it’.
He stressed the importance of following public health guidance and minimising contact with others, adding: ‘I know this is very hard, but it is an unfortunate scientific fact that the virus thrives on humans making social contact with one another.
On Monday, Mr Johnson is set to announce a new raft of measures intended to control a surge of infections across much of the North of England.
Pubs and restaurants could be closed and social interaction between households in Covid-hit areas severely curtailed.
Ministers are understood to be giving mayors powers to deploy an army of local volunteers to knock on doors and ask people to self-isolate in a bid to ‘improve compliance’, according to the Sunday Times.
But the Prime Minister is facing strong opposition from leaders in some northern areas, who insist their infection rates are falling.
The premier also faces concern from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has been urging him to show ‘restraint’ over the new lockdown.