The Prime Minister has warned that the current lockdown could last until the summer and a Downing Street official has refused to rule out “lockdown 4” later in the year.
Boris Johnson said that no decision has been made over easing or lifting the lockdown and warned that the next few weeks are “unquestionably going to be tough.”
Johnson was asked if England could stay in lockdown until the summer, he said, “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions.”
The Prime Minister added, “We’ll look on February 15 at how we’re doing but I think what we’re seeing in the ONS data, in the React survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas, there’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.
“It’s not more deadly but it is much more contagious and the numbers are very great.”
He has strongly urged the public to continue following the lockdown rules, saying it was “absolutely crucial” to reduce the rate of transmission.
Imperial College gave a grim warning which sent alarm bells throughout Whitehall that the current restirctions may not be enough.
They warned that the virus has also more than doubled in the over 65s.
Imperial College’s Steven Riley warned, “There’s no evidence of signs they are decreasing, ten days into lockdown.
“The deaths we’re seeing now are from levels of prevalence very similar to this.
“We can’t expect them to drop to low levels.”