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Thu, 29 October 2020

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Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance Will Address The Nation As It Reaches a "Critical Point" In the Pandemic

Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance Will Address The Nation As It Reaches a 'Critical Point' In the Pandemic

Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance (Credit: PA)

3 min read

The UK's coronavirus numbers are "heading in the wrong direction", the government's most senior advisers have warned ahead of a live briefing on what could happen next.

Ahead of a planned televised apperance on Monday, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the country faces a "critical point" in the pandemic, amid spiralling case numbers and failings in the testing system. 

The pair will address the nation at 11am, during which they will "explain how the virus is spreading and the potential scenarios".

Charts and graphs will be deployed to set out the latest data on cases in the UK, as well as other countries experiencing a second wave of the virus.

It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a second national lockdown on Sunday, warning the country faces a "tipping point", the results of which depend on "each and every one of us" following new stricer rules.

Professor Whitty is expected to say: “The trend in UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.

“We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”

Figures suggest Covid-19 cases are doubling every seven to eight days, with a further 4,422 confirmed UK cases on Saturday, and 27 deaths. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned tighter restrictions, similar to those imposed in the north east of England earlier this week, could come into play in the capital as soon as Monday.

A City Hall spokesperson said: "The situation is clearly worsening. Sadiq will meet council leaders tomorrow 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. It is better for both health and business to move too early than too late."

Mr Hancock said on Sunday that he "would not rule out" Londoners being asked to work from home. 

Boris Johnson, meanwhile, is reportedly considering a tightening of measures across the whole of England, including a ban on households mixing and reduced opening hours for pubs.

"I don't want to see more measures but unfortunately if people don't follow the rules that's how the virus spreads," Mr Hancock told Sky News on Sunday.

"Everyone faces a choice and it comes down to individual moments - should I go to that party where there might not be social distancing? 

"The answer is no, you should not."

Asked what he expected the death rate could be if people failed to follow the rules, the health secretary said: "It's unknowable, because it depends on the behaviour of every single person in this country."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pledged to back ministers in implementing a second national lockdown, should scientific advice support the measures.

"In the end this is not about party politics. This is about getting the nation through this virus, so if the government takes action I will support that, we will support it and I will support their message," he said.

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