Coronavirus deaths could hit several thousand a day unless we act now, Boris Johnson warns

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 min read

Watch: Boris Johnson announces country will enter second national lockdown

Boris Johnson has warned coronavirus deaths could hit thousands a day unless we act now as he announced a second lockdown.

The prime minister revealed details of the new restrictions during a press conference at Downing Street on Saturday afternoon.

He said: “We've got to be humble in the face of nature - and in this country, alas, as across much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers.

“Whose models as you've just seen now suggest that unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day - a peak of mortality, alas, bigger than the one we saw in April.”

The prime minister was forced into making the announcement two days early after details of the plan were leaked on Friday.

Scientists warned COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths in the UK could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on October 31, 2020 to announce new lockdown restrictions in an effort to curb rising infections of the novel coronavirus. - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England, a dramatic strategy shift following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed under his current system of localised restrictions. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street (Picture: Getty)

New restrictions, which start on Thursday and finish on 2 December, include the closing of pubs, bars and restaurants except for takeaway and delivery service.

Johnson said people may only leave home for specific reasons, including for education, work, and exercise and recreation outdoors with your household or on your own, or with one person from another household.

Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed, though click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open.

Single adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household and children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C), Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance (L) and Britain's Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (R) attend a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on October 31, 2020 during which the prime minister announced new lockdown restrictions in an effort to curb rising infections of the novel coronavirus. - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England, a dramatic strategy shift following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed under his current system of localised restrictions. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson (C) with Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance (L) and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (Picture: Getty)

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said COVID-19 infection rates had been “extremely rapidly” increasing in recent weeks during the press conference.

Citing Office for National Statistics data, he added: “The prevalence of this disease has been going up extremely rapidly over the last few weeks, having been very flat due to the work of everybody in the country over spring and summer.

“And we now have around 50,000 new cases a day and that is rising.”

He said: “I think if we did not act now then the chances of the NHS being in extraordinary trouble in December would be very, very high.

“So in a sense, this is trying to make sure that December is not an impossible place for the NHS with large numbers of people infected and large numbers dying.”

Official figures announced Saturday recorded 21,915 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the UK’s total since the start of the pandemic to 1,011,660.

Another 326 people died bringing the official death toll to 46,555, the highest in Europe.

Johnson has introduced a Tier system of local restrictions for England based on levels of infection.

But scientists say it has not been enough to tame a surge of COVID-19 cases and they were running “significantly above” a reasonable worst-case scenario drawn up by modellers.

Free hand sanitiser is available for Oxford Street shoppers to maintain personal hygiene, according to government guidelines during the second wave of the UK Coronavirus pandemic, on 30th October 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
A new national lockdown has been announced (Picture: Getty)

England has joined other European countries such as France, Germany and Belgium in imposing a second lockdown.

Johnson is also under pressure from some members of his Conservative Party, who oppose tighter restrictions because of the economic damage they would cause.

Any new lockdown will need Parliament's approval.

Owners of businesses that have struggled to get back on their feet since the first lockdown was eased said the impact of new closures would be devastating.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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