National lockdown is only way to save Christmas, say Sage


A NATIONAL lockdown is the only way to save Christmas, Government scientists have warned.

The experts said that data now suggests that every local authority could be in Tier 3 by December.

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The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is said to be pushing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do a U-turn again and implement a national lockdown.

One source said: “It’s definitely too late to think that the two week circuit breaker on its own would sort this.

“It would bring it down a bit, but it wouldn’t be enough to bring it right down. Now almost certainly it would need to go on for longer.”

Mr Johnson had previously said that a lockdown would cause further damage to the economy.

Sage papers released today revealed that the group has advised Downing Street on its “reasonable worst case scenario”.

It was revealed today that Londoners could be forced into Tier 3 - but experts claim the whole country could be under tougher restrictions by December

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It was revealed today that Londoners could be forced into Tier 3 – but experts claim the whole country could be under tougher restrictions by December Credit: ©2020 Gustavo Valiente / Parsons Media

The papers state that this scenario would be 85,000 deaths over the course of winter.

This would equate to more than 500 deaths a day.

Advisers are also said to be pushing for the closure of pubs and the wider hospitality industry.

In documents dated October 14, Sage warned: “We are breaching the number of infections and hospital admissions in the Reasonable Worst Case planning scenario.

“The number of deaths is now in line with the levels in the RWC and is almost certain to exceed this within the next two weeks.”

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Scientists highlighted that if infections were to fall in the “very near future”, we might only see deaths exceed the worst case scenario for three to four weeks.

Sage added: “But if R remains above 1 then the epidemic will further diverge from the planning scenario.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today revealed that cases of the virus have grown in all age groups – but especially in older teenagers and young adults.

Daily cases have increased by 50 per cent in just a week with 568,000 infected within seven days.

As cases continue to rise, experts claimed that a two week circuitbreak lockdown would not be long enough to drive rates down.

Aside from the ONS data released earlier today, combined estimates from six models revealed that there could be between 43,000 and 74,000 new infections every day in England.

Sage added: “This is significantly above the profile of the reasonable worst-case scenario, where the number of daily infections in England remained between 12,000 – 13,000 throughout October.”

Under pressure

Local councils across the country are currently in discussions with experts as to when their areas will be placed under tougher restrictions.

London is also set to be in talks to enter Tier 3 as cases rise across the capital.

Nearly a fifth of England – roughly 11 million people – will be living under the most drastic lockdown rules as both Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire were given Tier 3 restrictions last night.

Tens of millions more Brits are living under Tier 2 measures which ban mixing with households indoors.

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A national shut down before Christmas could be on the cards in order to enable families to spend the festive season together.

One local leader today demanded that the government cave to pressure from Sage and introduce a national lockdown.

Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said: “The problem is the tier system just isn’t working. Areas in Tier 3 are still seeing rising cases.”

He added: “I am of the opinion England needs to follow France, Germany and Wales with a national circuit-breaker as quickly as possible.

“We must not repeat the mistake of last March in not moving soon enough.”

“The Government must reconsider its position and agree to a circuit-breaker and put the right support in place for jobs and businesses.”

The pressure for a national lockdown in the UK comes as it was this afternoon revealed that the R rate had dropped in the UK.

The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid-19 on to – is now estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3.

The R rate has dropped again this week and it is the second week in a row that it has fallen.

Last week on October 23, the government announced that the R rate was between 1.2 and 1.4.

The week before, on October 16, it was between 1.3 and 1.5.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

An R number between 1.1 and 1.3 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 13 other people.

The data also stated that the growth rate sits between two and four per cent.

This means that the number of new infections is growing by two to four per cent every day.

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