SAGE scientists have warned of a Christmas lockdown and say that the public must wear masks and work from home to save the holidays.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of Nervtag and SAGE subgroup CO-CIN, said that the current death rates are “unacceptable” and people need to act now.
Professor Peter Openshaw said that he fears there will be a lockdown over Christmas
A joint statement from unions including the TUC, Usdaw, Unison, Unite, the GMB and Aslef representing 3million workers have also demanded the Government bring in policies including the return of home-working and face mask-wearing.
And the unions say there are already “hundreds” of outbreaks in workplaces as the national case and death toll continues to rise.
Professor Openshaw, of Imperial College London, told BBC Breakfast: “I’m very fearful that we’re going to have another lockdown Christmas if we don’t act soon.
“We know that with public health measures the time to act is immediately. There’s no point in delaying.
“We all really, really want a wonderful family Christmas where we can all get back together.
“If that’s what we want, we need to get these measures in place now in order to get transmission rates right down so that we can actually get together and see one another over Christmas.”
Professor Openshaw added: “I think the hospitals in many parts of the country are barely coping actually.
“Talking to people on the front line, I think it’s just not sustainable to keep going at this rate.
‘I think it’s just unacceptable to see the number of deaths that we’ve got at the moment.
“At one stage last week there were 180 deaths in a single day. That is just too many deaths. We seem to have got used to the idea that we’re going to have many, many people dying of Covid and that I think is just not the case.
“We need to slow down transmission and really redouble efforts to get everyone vaccinated and all the boosters out, and then we can open up again.”
This comes after Rishi Sunak has said that another lockdown is “not on the cards” because Covid boosters will prevent the need for extreme coronavirus restrictions.
The Chancellor admitted that this winter would be “challenging” but because of the vaccine rollout and booster jabs, the country wouldn’t resort to another lockdown.
Instead, jabs will continue to be the country’s “first line of defence” against the virus as infections pick up this winter.
He told The Times: “I think we’re just in a very different place to where we were a year ago because of the vaccine.
“There’s this enormous wave of protection, and that changes things. That’s our first line of defence.”
Mr Sunak admitted that whilst the winter would be “challenging”, it wouldn’t mean resorting to another lockdown.
“There’s a range of options that are available, and those are not options that involve lockdowns or very significant economic restrictions,” he said.
This comes as the UK’s Covid case total rose by almost 50,000 AGAIN yesterday– as Boris Johnson vows “we’ll do what we have to” to stop the spread.
A further 49,298 people tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday, a 9.7 per cent week-on-week rise on last Friday.
On Thursday, daily Covid cases passed 50,000 for the first time in three months when a further 52,009 tested positive.
The last time daily infections surpassed the grim milestone was on July 17 when 54,674 fresh cases were reported.
Friday’s death toll has also soared, after 180 deaths were recorded. The figure marks an almost 60 per cent rise on Thursday’s 115 fatalities.
It comes as Boris Johnson yesterday vowed to do “whatever we have to do” to keep rising Covid cases under control but insisted a full lockdown isn’t “on the cards”.
The PM urged Brits to be increasingly “cautious” and start wearing masks again amid alarm over spiralling infections.
Scientists have warned how much worse the Covid outbreak could play out over the next year without “Plan B” style measures – as vaccine immunity wanes.
In papers given to scientific advisers to the Government, experts warn of the importance of booster jabs at keeping the virus in check indefinitely.
Worst-case scenario graphs suggest 150,000 infections per day, 2,000 hospital admissions and 300 deaths, in the spring of 2022.
That’s even with booster vaccines taken up by 90 per cent of adults over 50 years old over the winter.
Using Plan B – face coverings, working from home and vaccine passports – from May 2022 only push the “peak” further into the year.
It’s based on an assumption that immunity wanes faster than is expected.
But even with moderate waning, infections could peak at 100,000 per day – and deaths 200 – after winter.
The models – from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – suggest that further peaks are inevitable next year, suggesting Covid is far from over.
Speaking at a vaccine centre in London, the PM today insisted that the surge of the virus was “always predicted” by scientists and is “fully in line with” what they expected.
He said the most important thing people can do is come forward for their booster jabs.
Boris said: “Our autumn and winter plan always predicted that cases would rise around about now. We’re certainly seeing that in the numbers.
“We’re seeing high levels of infection, but they’re not outside the parameters of what was predicted or what we thought we’d see.
“But it’s very important people do follow the guidance on general behaviour, on being cautious.”
He said people should wear masks “in confined places where you’re meeting people you don’t normally meet”.
And he urged people to keep up regular hand washing and make sure rooms have good ventilation.