Medical and scientific experts are warning that there needs to be a change before Christmas as they estimate almost 100,000 people per day are becoming infected.
They have said that the current measures the government has put in place are “not sufficient” as the pandemic is “growing exponentially.”
Sir Jeremy Farrar, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has said the UK “cannot continue to just observe and not act.”
In a tweet, he wrote: “U.K delayed in March resulting one of worst outcomes globally. Sept/Oct we have had all the data, trajectory epidemic clear + experience first wave & other countries.
“Delaying is itself a decision with consequences.”
Professor Steven Riley of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London said, “Our data show that there’s absolutely no reason to expect that exponential rise to change to the next few weeks, regardless of what we do, because we’re measuring infections occurring in the community.
‘If we are going to consider at some point over the winter that we may have to do something much more stringent, then it becomes a question of time.
“I think these results do argue for something sooner rather than later.”
He added, “There has to be a change. The rate of growth that we’re seeing and in these data is really quite rapid, so one way or another there has to be a change before Christmas.
“We’ve fairly reliably measured a slight decrease in R in our interim round five, now we have measured a slight increase in R, and the slight increase in R means that current measures are not sufficient.”
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said, “I think we were disappointed to see that actually we were still in this rapid growth phase – except, as we say, in the North East where there does seem to have been a turn down, but it’s still growing.
“It’s more critical, because it’s gone up more and it’s continuing to go up. And also, we’re seeing this increase in the rate of rise, rather than decrease in the rate of rise which we did spot before.
“So, there was a period when the rate of rise was decreasing, and we were hopeful that the policies that have been implemented were turning the rates down and ultimately turning the prevalence down.
“But what we see this time is an increase in the rate of rise and not only a high prevalence in the north, increasing rapidly increasing prevalence in the south.”
The report suggests that interim estimate of the R rate are above 2.0 in the South East, East of England, London and South West.
But there is a degree of uncertainty over the figures.
The experts warn, “The co-occurrence of high prevalence and rapid growth means that the second wave of the epidemic in England has now reached a critical stage.
“Whether via regional or national measures, it is now time-critical to control the virus and turn R below one if further hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 are to be avoided.”