Boris Johnson warns coronavirus deaths over the winter could be twice as high as during the first wave
Boris Johnson has warned that coronavirus deaths over the winter could be twice as high as they were during the first wave.
The Prime Minister today told MPs the new restrictions were necessary and dismissed claims he had acted too slowly.
Making a statement in the Commons, Mr Johnson urged Tory rebels to support him by insisting the data had forced his hand.
He said: "Models of our scientists suggest that unless we act now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or more compared with the first wave.
"Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level."
The new measures come in at midnight on Wednesday, and will last until December 2 before being reviewed.
Mr Johnson also explained he had tried to use a tier system to avoid a full lockdown, but cases had spiralled too quickly.
He said: “I believe it was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level with strong local action and strong local leadership.
“And I reject any suggestion that we are somehow slower in taking measures than our European friends and partners.
“In fact we’re moving to national measures when the rate of both death and infections, for instance, is lower than they were in France.”
Mr Johnson also warned of an “existential threat” to the NHS because of the pandemic, and claimed failing to act could see the public miss out on having treatment for other issues.
He said: “Let me spell out the medical and moral disaster we face.
“If we allow our health system to be overwhelmed, exactly as the data now suggests, then that would not only be a disaster for thousands of Covid patients, because their survival rates would fall, we would also reach a point where the NHS was no longer there for everyone.
“The sick would be turned away because there was no room in our hospitals.
“Doctors and nurses could be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would live and who would die.”
However, the PM also insisted there were reasons to be positive with an “immediate prospect” of “many millions of cheap, reliable and rapid turnaround tests with a result in minutes”.
He added: “We have the real prospect of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year.”
“I believe these technical developments taken together will enable us to defeat the virus by the spring, as humanity has defeated every other infectious disease and I’m not alone in this optimism."
Responding to his statement, Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of a “catastrophic failure of leadership”.
He said: “For 40 days the Prime Minister ignored that advice and when he finally announced a longer and deeper national lockdown on Saturday, those figures had increased to 326 deaths a day and 22,000 Covid cases.
“At every stage, the Prime Minister has been too slow, behind the curve. At every stage, he’s over-promised and under-delivered.
“The reality is that the two pillars of the Prime Minister’s strategy, the £12 billion track and trace and regional restrictions, have not only failed to stop the second wave, they’ve been swept away by it."
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