Government advisers are said to have urged Boris Johnson to implement tougher restrictions to limit the spread of the virus after modelling suggested high numbers of deaths attributed to the virus could continue for months.
Downing Street did not deny a projection provided the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) had suggested the toll could remain high throughout the winter and result in more fatalities than in the spring.
The Telegraph reported the forecast had lead to intense lobbying from experts including chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Valance to take more drastic action.
The UK recorded 367 more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily rise since May. When taking into account fatalities for which Covid-19 is included on the death certificate, the country’s death toll now surpasses 61,000.
“It’s going to be worse this time, more deaths”, the a source told the Telegraph. “That is the projection that has been put in front of the prime minister and he is now under a lot of pressure to lock down again.”
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A government spokesperson told The Independent: “We have consistently taken advice from a wide range of scientific and medical experts to inform government decision-making throughout the pandemic.
“The latest figures are concerning which is why we have introduced stronger measures to curb the spread of the virus in the areas where it is most prevalent. It is vital that everyone continues to play their part by following these rules, so we can save lives and protect the NHS.”
Some 22,885 new Covid-19 infections were confirmed in the UK on Tuesday.
“We continue to see the trend in deaths rising and it is likely this will continue for some time,” warned Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s medical director.
“Each day we see more people testing positive and hospital admissions increasing. Being seriously ill enough from the infection to need hospital admission can sadly lead to more Covid-related deaths.
“We can help to control this virus. We know that by washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering and socially distancing we can save lives by slowing the spread of the virus.”
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