Boris Johnson: A second coronavirus wave is coming to the UK

Boris Johnson is warning that a second wave of coronavirus has arrived in the UK, as scientists reported the "widespread growth" of the virus across the country.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 6:30 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the construction site of the new vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) currently under construction on the Harwell science and innovations campus near Didcot
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the construction site of the new vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) currently under construction on the Harwell science and innovations campus near Didcot

The Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the R number in England - representing the number of people an infected person will pass the virus to - has risen to between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning cases could rise very quickly.

Earlier, Nicola Sturgeon warned this weekend was a “critical point” for Scotland, with likely tighter restrictions including a potential “circuit breaker” lockdown being introduced next week.

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Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland on 'advance notice' for potential 'fire breaker' restrictions

As ministers announced tough new restrictions affecting 13.5 million people in England, Mr Johnson said they would "keep everything under review".

"There's no question, as I've said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in," he told reporters during a visit to the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford.

"We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe - it has been absolutely, I'm afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country."

Public Health England (PHE) warned that data published on Friday could be a sign of "far worse things to come", as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said cases are thought to have almost doubled in a week to 6,000-a-day in England.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, described the latest R figure as "undoubtedly concerning".

He said: "Even at growth rates within the estimated range, the number of new cases could grow to high levels quickly if the interventions are not sufficiently effective."

It comes as ministers discuss whether further national restrictions are needed, such as forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm or curbs on people socialising.

The Prime Minister insisted that he did not want a second national lockdown, but said it was essential that people followed social distancing guidelines - including the new "rule of six".

"But as we look at this particular curve and what is happening now, clearly we are going to keep everything under review. I don't want to get into a second national lockdown at all, it is the last thing anybody wants," he said.

"I don't want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all, we want to keep schools open and it is fantastic the schools have gone back in the way they have. We want to keep the economy open as far as we possibly can, we want to keep businesses going."The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance."

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