The number of deaths caused by coronavirus is likely to exceed the government’s worst-case scenario predictions with ministers being told the second wave is too far advanced now for a short circuit-breaker lockdown to stop it.
Newly released documents from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, or Sage committee, warns the scale of the virus’ spread throughout the UK means the number of deaths could surpass the 85,000 deaths that had been predicted by government modelling.
At a meeting of Sage on 8 October the committee warned: “In England the numbers of infections and hospital admissions exceed the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario (RWCS) planning levels at this time. Near-term projections indicate the number of deaths is highly likely to exceed RWCS planning levels within the next two weeks. Well over 100 new deaths per day are projected to occur within two weeks, even if strict new interventions are put in place immediately.”
The number of reported daily deaths is already above that level with 280 deaths reported on Thursday.
Scientists had previously called on the government to implement a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in September to try and bring the spread of the virus under control.
But members of Sage are now warning this will be unlikely to bring the rate of transmission of the virus down sufficiently to stop the spread with more and more people becoming infected all the time.
The scenario means it is much more likely that any lockdown will have to be longer and deeper than a circuit breaker.
The government rejected that idea in September and instead opted for a regional approach with different tiers which were brought into force just under a week after the SAGE meeting on 14 October with Liverpool among the first to enter the highest tier 3 alert level with pubs and bars not serving meals closed.
Manchester entered tier 3 on 23 October after a public row between the mayor Andy Burnham and ministers over the level of financial support.
A leaked report obtained by The Independent today revealed the region was close to running out of normal intensive care beds and may have to open makeshift intensive care units from next week.