Downing Street has been warned by the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre that the UK is around six weeks behind Spain, which are reporting more than 10,000 coronavirus cases each day, with over 230 deaths.
A senior government source said that the UK is on the same “trajectory of Spain and France” which have both countries seen more than 70,000 infections each over the last week.
Spain recorded 11,000 more infections on Thursday with 162 deaths, 5,100 of those cases were in Madrid which is home to around 3m people.
The regional hospitals have more than 2,900 that they are treating for coronavirus with almost 400 in intensive care.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been repeatedly warned by scientists that there will be hundreds of deaths “within weeks” and there is “no alternative” to a second national lockdown.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “Right now we’re at about the levels of infections that we were seeing in late February, if we leave it at another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid-March.
“That’s going to clearly cause deaths… I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later, the timing of any more intensive policy, temporary policy, is open to question.”
SAGE adviser Professor Graham Medley has argued for a half-term shutdown of the hospitality sector, he said, “Short, planned periods of reducing R below one can greatly reduce the risk of longer, unplanned emergency lockdowns.
“This option has to be balanced with local and more targeted measures which are less economically and socially disruptive, but do not appear, to date, to have prevented exponential increase of infection.
“If we are going to have to have another period of lockdown then presumably it would be better to know in advance when and for how long it will be [to allow] individuals and businesses to prepare.”
Government Ministers were further warned not to make the same mistakes of the March lockdown, as measures were implemented to slowly.
SAGE adviser Professor Susan Michie told The Daily Telegraph, “We need a stitch in time. We need to learn the lessons of the spring. Every day’s delay to a step change in measures to restrict transmission when it is increasing exponentially will be expensive in terms of health and lives in the short term and the economy in the long term.”
A senior Government source told the newspaper, “The Prime Minister has a very difficult challenge.
“At the moment we are on the same trajectory of Spain and France. Spain (on Thursday) clocked 240 deaths, they are six weeks ahead of us, so it is now being translated from cases to deaths.
“By mid to late October if we don’t do anything then obviously that’s going to put us in a situation that looks more like we were earlier in the year.”
A Whitehall source added, “We see cases rising across the age groups and across the country, signs of hospitalisations and care home cases going up, it feels like we’re back where we were in February and March.”
Johnson on Friday night that he was considering whether the government needed to “go further” than the current national restrictions.
He said, “We’re looking very carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days and there’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect [and] are now seeing a second wave coming in.
“We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe, it has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.”