UK faces ‘catastrophe’ without tougher action, warns scientist

UK faces 'catastrophe' without tougher action, warns scientist
Winchester moved into the toughest level of restrictions in England on Boxing Day. Source: PA media
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Daily US Times: A scientist advising the UK government has said “decisive” national action is needed to tackle the spread of coronavirus and prevent a “catastrophe” in the new year.

Prof Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), suggested tougher decisions may be necessary to deal with rising numbers of infections.

Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, will announce any changes to England’s tier restrictions on Wednesday.

Hospitals in England and Wales are now treating more coronavirus patients than at the peak of the first wave in April.

The Health Secretary said in a tweet that the NHS was facing “unprecedented pressures” from coronavirus, while Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said health workers were “back in the eye of the storm”.

On Tuesday, 53,135 new coronavirus infection cases were reported in the UK – the highest daily figure yet – as well as 414 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The figures are likely to be distorted, as not all nations of the UK reported full data over the Christmas period.

It comes a day after more than 40,000 daily Covid cases were announced for the first time in the UK, although it is thought that infection rates were higher earlier in the year, before mass testing.

People have been urged to stay at home in Scotland and not celebrate Hogmanay with other households as daily case numbers hit a record high.

The spread of a new variant means the United Kingdom is “entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic”, according to Prof Hayward.

He said: “We’re going to need decisive, early, national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February.”

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