Britain’s chief medical officers (CMOs) have recommended moving the country’s COVID-19 alert level from level 3 to level 4, according to a joint statement released on Monday from the CMOs.
“The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and recommend all 4 nations of the UK should move to level 4,” said the statement.
Level 4 means COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation, transmission is high or rising exponentially.
The recommendation was tabled at a time when countries such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.
UK PM to chair emergency meeting to tackle coronavirus pandemic
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency COBRA meeting on Tuesday to tackle the rising coronavirus cases, Downing Street said Monday.
Johnson will also discuss the coronavirus response with the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland later on Monday, according to the prime minister’s spokesman.
“One thing he will do is (to) reiterate his commitment to working together with the devolved administrations as one United Kingdom in response to the rising infection rates that we’re seeing across the UK,” the spokesman said.
“We do face significant challenges as we enter the winter months,” the spokesman added.
COBRA, named after Britain’s Cabinet Office Briefing Room A on Whitehall, gathers ministers, civil servants, the police, intelligence officers and others appropriate to whatever they are looking into in an emergency response.
“Tomorrow morning is an opportunity for COBRA to discuss what next steps may be required in the coronavirus response,” the spokesman said.
Earlier Monday, the British government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance warned that Britain could see 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day by mid-October unless intervention is taken to slow the current infection rate.
The number of new COVID-19 cases was doubling roughly every seven days and Britain could see 200 deaths a day by mid-November, Vallance told a press briefing at 10 Downing Street.
“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days,” Vallance said.
“That requires speed, it requires action and it requires…enough in order to be able to bring that down,” he added.
Britain recorded another 4,368 infections overnight on Monday, bringing total number of coronavirus cases to 398,625. The coronavirus-related death toll rose by 11 to 41,788, according to official figures released Monday.
Senior government officials have signalled that a social lockdown, with curbs on meeting people from other households and closures or shorter hours for pubs and restaurants.
Meanwhile, countries such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.
Vallance said it is possible that some vaccine could be available in small amounts later this year, but it is more likely that a vaccine will be available early next year, although that is not guaranteed.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who joined Vallance for the televised briefing, said the British government has to take decisions that will have to balance the impact on the economy with the danger of the virus.
“If we do too little, this virus will go out of control…But if we go too far the other way we can cause damage to the economy which can feed through to unemployment and poverty which have long term health effects,” he said.
Coronavirus cases are spiking sharply in London, as in much of the rest of Britain.
At the same time, a spokesperson for the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said, “The situation is clearly worsening. Sadiq will meet council leaders and any London-specific measures will be recommended to ministers following that.”
“The mayor wants fast action as we cannot risk a delay, as happened in March,”
the spokesman said. “It is better for both health and business to move too early than too late.”
The British government has recently introduced “the rule of six”, limiting the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors to six. More stringent restrictions, which include a ban on the mix of different households, have been put in place in parts of Britain to tackle rising infection rates.