UK heading for 'circuit breaker' national lockdown as hospital cases DOUBLE in eight days and country faces 'big moment'
THE UK is heading for a nationwide national lockdown as a "circuit breaker" within weeks as hospital cases double in days, Matt Hancock said today.
The Health Secretary refused to rule out a second national lockdown this morning amid fears cases are spiraling as high as 38,000 a day.
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It came after reports the Government is considering a two-week shut down – possibly over the October half term – as a "circuit breaker" to curb the spread of the disease.
Experts on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-m) have suggested a temporary measure, the Financial Times reported last night.
And speaking to Sky's Kay Burley this morning, Mr Hancock said: "The last line of defence is full national action and I don't want to see that but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic."
He told Times Radio: "The last line of defence is national action.
"I want to avoid that but we can only do that if everybody follows the rules.
"We know that a national lockdown works because it did last time, and we can see in the figures that this is a serious moment."
He added: "It is the thing we can do to keep people safe if that's what's needed."
Boris Johnson has stressed he never wants to shut down the nation's schools again, which could explain why action in October is on the cards.
One Sage member told the FT: "As schools will be closed for one week at half-term, adding an extra week to that will have limited impact on education."
It comes as…
- Mr Hancock said the number of people going into hospital with the virus is doubling every eight days
- Hundreds of drinkers hit the town for a last boozy night out before a North East lockdown comes into force today
- Lancashire and Merseyside face lockdowns with a 10pm pub and restaurant curfew – expected to be announced later today
- Scores of coronavirus hotspots across the country have emerged in recent weeks
- Coronavirus cases rose by 3,395 with 21 deaths recorded yesterday
- A new 90-minute coronavirus test is 94 per cent accurate, experts have revealed
The PM hasn't ruled out another national shutdown – although with the increasing number of lightning lockdowns across many regions, much of the country is already living with enforced changes.
Warning a second national lockdown would be “disastrous”, the PM said on Wednesday: “I don’t want a second national lockdown.
“I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.”
But he is believed to be waiting to see the impact of the rule of six is – which was introduced on Monday – and whether it has any impact on cases.
Yesterday No10 and ministers played down reports that Professor Chris Whitty had proposed a two-week lockdown.
Anthony Costello, who sits on the independent SAGE panel, said that England's chief medical officer had suggested the new shutdown to curb the spread – and that cases could be as high as 38,000 a day.
However, hours later he then appeared to go back on his claims, tweeting: "I've been told by another insider I respect that Chris Whitty does not support a 2 week lockdown, so I'm pleased to correct the record."
A No10 spokesperson said of the reports of a two week shutdown: "We don't recognise that at all."
At least 10million Brits are already under local lockdowns with tough new restrictions put in place to tackle a surge in cases.
Hundreds of drinkers hit the town for a last boozy night out before the North East was put into lockdown.
Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester have also been plunged into lockdown or given restrictions that limit households mixing and curfews.
Merseyside and Lancashire – apart from Blackpool – are also expected to be hit with a North East-style lockdown, it has emerged.
Mr Hancock today said that the number of "people being hospitalized is doubling every 8 days" in a sign the virus is spreading exponentially again.
UK coronavirus cases rose yesterday by 3,395 with 21 more deaths – as test shortages strike across the country.
London has also seen a rise of case rates in at least 30 boroughs.
Shocking figures released last week by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori show the number of cases of the deadly virus is doubling every seven to eight days in England.
And the R rate – which shows the number of people, on average, that one infected person will pass the virus on to – has ballooned to 1.7.
Meanwhile, Brits have struggled to book appointments to get tested due to a backlog of about 240,000 swabs.
Just this week it was claimed no tests were available in England's top 10 hotspots.
Londonders have even been told to pretend they are from Aberdeen to get a local coronavirus test amid the booking chaos.
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