Chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance has warned there could be 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19 by mid-October and 200 deaths a day by mid-November if the current rate of infection is not halted.
Speaking at a snap public briefing in Downing Street on Monday alongside chief medical officer Chris Whitty, Vallance laid out what the country is facing if cases continue to rise at the same rate.
It comes after Boris Johnson warned on Friday that a second wave “is coming” to the UK.
Vallance cautioned coronavirus cases were rising across Europe – and that was leading to a mounting daily death toll.
There was a “simple message” that “as the disease spreads, as it spreads across age groups, we expect to see increasing hospitalisations and unfortunately, those increasing hospitalisations will lead to increasing deaths”, he said.
Last week, the all important R rate of the virus, which shows whether the pandemic is growing, jumped to between 1.1 and 1.4 and the daily positive case number went over 4,000 for the first time since May.
“At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days,” Vallance said.
“If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated and this grows doubling every seven days… if that continued you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.
“Fifty thousand cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November say, to 200-plus deaths per day.
“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”
Whitty, meanwhile, said there was a “rate of increase across the great majority of the country” and that Brits could expect curbs on socialising for six months.
He said: “It is going at different rates but it is now increasing.”
The chief medical officer also warned with winter approaching “the seasons are against us”, adding that “we’re now going into the seasons – late autumn and winter...