The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that the UK could face 50,000 infections every day by 13 October.
Sir Patrick gave a grim warning that this would translate into “200 plus deaths” every day by mid-November.
“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days,” he said.
“There are already things in place which are expected to slow that, and to make sure that we do not enter this exponential growth and end up with the problems that you would predict as a result of that.
“That requires speed, it requires action.”
Sir Patrick said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching the virus and given the current situation the country is in swift actions is needed.
Sir Patrick who was with England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, gave a televised press conference and warned that there is “no doubt” the UK is in a situation where infections are increasing across all age groups.
He said, “At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.”
He said that around 8% of the population or approximately 3m people could have been infected and therefore have antibodies.
However, Sir Patrick added, “It means the vast majority of us are not protected in any way and are susceptible to this disease.”
Professor Whitty warned that there is a need to “break unnecessary links” between households and there was a need to “change course.”
There are now “significant rates of transmission” in parts of the UK.
Professor Whitty said, “What we’ve found is, as we go through in time, anywhere that was falling is now moving over to beginning to rise and then the rate of rise continues in an upwards direction.
“So, this is not someone else’s problem, this is all of our problem.”
He warned that restrictions will need to be introduced to try and “break unnecessary links between households” is important because “that is the way in which this virus is transmitted.”
“We all know we cannot do this without some significant downsides,” he added.
“This is a balance of risk between if we don’t do enough the virus will take off and at the moment that is the path we’re clearly on, and if we do not change course we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult problem.”
He told the press briefing that people across the UK should expect a tough winter.
He said, “At this point the seasons are against us, we’re now going into the seasons late autumn and winter, which benefit respiratory viruses, and it is very likely they will benefit COVID, as they do, for example, flu.
“So, we should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively, it’s not indefinite.”