A heatwave has swept through the UK as experts warn the country is “on the edge of losing control” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK has recorded more than 370,000 cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic with 41,000 deaths.
It also recorded 3,105 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, compared with 2,621 the day before, official statistics showed.
Mark Walport, a member of the British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said on Saturday (local time) that the country is on the "edge of losing control" of the spread of the coronavirus.
Alarmingly, SAGE also last week said the country’s R number, or reproduction number, has gone up from 1.0 to about 1.2.
An R number between 1.0 and 1.2 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 12 other people.
According to the ABC, Australia’s R number is currently 0.94. To reduce the spread, it is essential that number is below 1.
The UK has stepped up methods to stop the spread, instructing people to stand two metres apart and on Monday instructed citizens to not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than six.
What’s not going to help is the UK is currently going through what the Met Office is calling an “unusual” heatwave. Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders said it’s due to “high pressure in combination with warm, southerly winds”.
London reached a high of 29 degrees on both Monday and Tuesday while Brighton on the south coast reached similar temperatures.
“This is unusual as statistically 97 per cent of UK heatwaves occur in the summer months - June, July and August,” Met Office said.
While the crowds aren’t as big as they were earlier in the pandemic, people were still seen heading to Brighton’s beach to escape the heat on Monday.
Fortunately, the heat is meant to ease in the later part of the week.
Such is the concern about the virus spread, even during the heatwave, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly considering asking 4,500,000 at-risk people to stay at home, The Telegraph reported.
SAGE’s Professor Peter Openshaw told Sky News over the weekend he’s concerned about the number of cases growing, likening it to water seeping through a dam.
“It starts as a trickle and if you don’t do something about it, it can turn into a real cascade,” Professor Openshaw said.
‘It is frustrating’
The UK’s COVID testing system is also facing issues due to a surge in demand.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament earlier this week there are “operational challenges”.
"As we expand capacity further we are working round the clock to ensure everyone who needs a test can get a test,” he said.
Phil Sands, a medical engineer, who builds and repairs medical equipment at University College Hospital in London, said he had been off work for the last two days after one of his daughters developed a cold over the weekend.
Mr Sands said he had tried more than 50 times to log on to the government's website to book a test, but each time it either said there are none available or the system crashed.
"It is frustrating that I can’t work, I have no symptoms, there is nothing wrong with me, but following the guidelines I have to stay home until I can prove that I don't have COVID-19 or the (quarantine) time has passed," he told Reuters.
Attempts by Reuters reporters to get a COVID-19 test on Tuesday were greeted with a notice on the government's website saying: "This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later."
Some test results have also taken several days to return.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.