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‘This is all our problem’ - Nation could see 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by October, health advisors warn

PUBLISHED: 12:28 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:50 21 September 2020

The government's chief medical officer Chris Whitty (left) and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance arrive in Downing Street ahead of a briefing to explain how the coronavirus is spreading in the UK and the potential scenarios that could unfold as winter approaches. Picture: Yui Mok /PA Wire

The government's chief medical officer Chris Whitty (left) and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance arrive in Downing Street ahead of a briefing to explain how the coronavirus is spreading in the UK and the potential scenarios that could unfold as winter approaches. Picture: Yui Mok /PA Wire

Britain could face 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October if the current rate of infection is not halted warn the county’s two leading health advisors.

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

Professor Chris Whitty chief medical officer for England, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific officer, held a press conference following a surge in coronavirus cases.

Sir Patrick said the challenge was to ensure the doubling time did not stay at seven days as he presented figures showing what the number of cases, and deaths could look like if left unabated.

He told the conference: “If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows, doubling every seven days ... you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.

“50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November, to 200-plus deaths per day.

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

“The challenge, therefore, is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”

Presentation slides showed that every age group had seen an increase, with the most affected group those aged 20 to 29.

Professor Whitty said the four things to do are reducing individual risk by washing hands and using masks, following quarantine measures, and investing in vaccines and drugs - adding that people needed to break unnecessary links between households.

He said: “You cannot in an epidemic just take your own risk - unfortunately you’re taking a risk on behalf of everybody else. It’s important that we see this as something we have to do collectively.”

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

Professor Whitty said there had been “significant rates of transmission” of coronavirus in parts of the UK.

The figures showed Norfolk was one of a few regions where the rate of infection was stable or had fallen.

The chief medical officer said: “What we’ve seen is a progression where, after the remarkable efforts which got the rates right down across the country, first we saw very small outbreaks, maybe associated with a workplace or another environment, then we’ve seen more localised outbreaks which have got larger over time, particularity in the cities.

“And now what we’re seeing is a rate of increase across the great majority of the country.

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

Slides from the national briefing on 21 September on coronavirus figures. Picture: Prime Minister�s Press Office

“It is going at different rates but it is now increasing.

“So, this is not someone else’s problem, this is all of our problem.”


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