Advisors said prime minister Boris Johnson was reportedly told “virtually every day” since mid-September that immediate action was needed to curb infections (AFP via Getty Images)
As the highest toll of daily cases of coronavirus since May is reported, MPs are due to vote on a second national lockdown across England.
Meanwhile, cases surged around Europe with Bulgaria and Ukraine reporting their highest daily rise and Denmark suspended parliament after several ministers tested positive.
MPs are to vote on England’s second lockdown, as prime minister Boris Johnson continues to face backlash from members in his party.
The Commons will decide on whether a national lockdown will occur after a 90 minute debate on the new coronavirus restrictions while Labour is set to back the measures.
Mr Johnson will urge ministers to vote on Wednesday afternoon to go-ahead with the lockdown, which will see bars, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops close across England from Thursday until 2 December.
Education settings and essential workplaces would remain open for the next four weeks.
The UK reports highest daily death toll since May
397 deaths from coronavirus have been reported in the UK over the past 24 hours – the highest number since 27 May, when 422 deaths were logged. In total, the number of coronavirus fatalities in the UK has risen to 47,250.
Government data suggests new infections continue to surge across the UK with a further 20,081 new infections reported.
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests the weekly increase in coronavirus deaths has risen to its highest figure since early June.
Advisors warn of need for urgent action to curb daily rise in cases
MPs heard yesterday that elective operations have been cancelled and urgent care may soon be limited while chief medical officer Chris Whitty said hospitalisations were on an “exponential curve” upwards.
Mr Johnson was reportedly told “virtually every day” since mid-September that immediate action was needed to curb the number of infections.
When asked if there was a “serious prospect” that the NHS’s intensive care capacity will be overrun within six weeks, chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, told the committee: “If nothing is done, yes.”
The UK is expected to go into a national second lockdown on Thursday, a move that Mr Whitty said could “make a huge difference.”
Speaking in the Commons, he said: “If people adhere to [the restrictions] in the way that I expect they will, it’ll reduce R below one, in my view, in the great majority or all of the country,” he said. “That will pull us back in time.”
Boris Johnson comes under fire for claim that UK ‘has a system of mass testing’ when trial is yet to start
The government has said there is no date for when mass testing will be extended to the rest of the UK.
After prime minister Boris Johnson claimed the UK “now has a system of mass testing”, health experts quickly pointed out that a trial testing period planned for Liverpool is yet to even begin.
The details of the scheme to test most of Liverpool’s 500,000 residents every seven to 10 days over the four week lockdown have not been laid out.
There are mounting concerns around how many people will even volunteer for the test, as the financial help for those who may test positive and be forced to self-isolate is limited.