Coronavirus surge ‘has reached critical point’ in UK

Professor Chris Whitty warns the UK faces a 'very challenging winter' as the trend heads in 'the wrong direction'.

Coronavirus surge ‘has reached critical point’ in UK Getty Images
Warning: UK stands at a 'critical point' in pandemic.

The UK stands at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic, professor Chris Whitty will warn as he lays the ground for tough new restrictions.

In a televised briefing on Monday, the chief medical officer for England will say the UK faces a “very challenging winter”, with the current trend heading in “the wrong direction”.

Boris Johnson has spent the weekend with senior ministers and advisers discussing what action to take as the rise in the number of new cases showed no sign of slowing.

It is thought the PM could announce new measures in a press conference as early as Tuesday.

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Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman said a decision on greater lockdown restrictions being imposed in Scotland will be made in the early part of this week.

Freeman says announcement on new restrictions will be made 'very shortly'. Getty Images.Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Freeman says announcement on new restrictions will be made ‘very shortly’. Getty Images.

She said the Scottish Government will have an announcement “very shortly” on any more restrictions.

Prof Whitty is expected to say: “The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.

“We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”

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Freeman said on Sunday: “We’re not seeing community transmission at this point, but (we) are seeing large clusters and outbreaks of cases in some parts of Scotland.

“So we’re working this weekend with scientific and clinical advisers to understand what might be the additional measures that we can put in place.”

She added that Nicola Sturgeon had hoped to have a Cobra meeting with the four nations this weekend to discuss measures “to see if we could reach a shared view”, but that the PM was still considering the request.

When asked when the decision on lockdown measures may be made, Freeman replied: “We certainly will have an announcement very shortly. Not necessarily today, but definitely by the early part of next week.”

Discussions come as Scotland recorded 245 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

The new infections amount to 5.4% of newly-tested individuals.