The UK’s coronavirus alert level should be increased to level four as transmission of the virus is “high or rising exponentially”, chief medical officers have said.
The current alert level is at three after it was downgraded from four in June, as the virus was considered to be “in general circulation”.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre made the comments following a press conference in which the UK government’s chief scientific adviser warned the country faces 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October unless action is taken.
Sir Patrick Vallance said this could lead to 200 deaths a day by November, as he and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty held a televised briefing on Monday.
Following the news of the alert level being raised, Nicola Sturgeon said that she will agree measures to bring coronavirus under control in Scotland on Tuesday, with a statement made to the Scottish Parliament later that day.
In a joint statement, the chief medical officers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “After a period of lower Covid cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.
“If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly.
“We know this will be concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.”
Meanwhile it was announced that the Prime Minister will chair UK-wide crisis talks on coronavirus on Tuesday, with new restrictions expected this week.
The First Minister had expressed frustrations over delays of a Cobra meeting taking place during Monday’s briefing.
Sturgeon and the leaders of the UK’s other devolved nations have been calling for a meeting of the emergency committee to coordinate the next steps as Covid-19 continues to spread.
Following the news of the alert level being raised, Nicola Sturgeon said that she will agree measures to bring coronavirus under control in Scotland on Tuesday, with a statement made to the Scottish parliament in the evening.
Downing Street said Boris Johnson and the leaders of the devolved administrations had agreed to act with a “united approach, as much as possible” in tackling coronavirus.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Earlier today, the Prime Minister had calls with the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland about how coronavirus is spreading across the country.
“During these calls, the Prime Minister made clear that the rising infection rates are a cause for great concern, which he is taking very seriously.
“He reiterated his unwavering commitment to working with the devolved administrations as we continue to tackle the virus. They all agreed to act with a united approach, as much as possible, in the days and weeks ahead.”