Monday 21 September 2020 5:51 pm

Increase coronavirus alert level, say UK's top medical officials

The UK’s chief medical officers have called for the government to increase the coronavirus alert level from three to four, which could see new restrictions imposed.

A statement signed by the nation’s four top medical officials said they have “reviewed the evidence” and that “the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations”.

Read more: UK on track for 200 Covid deaths a day based on current infection rate

Coronavirus cases in the UK are beginning to rise rapidly, with many claiming the country is experiencing a second wave.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said today that cases are doubling every seven days and that cases would hit 50,000 a day if this rate continued.

Boris Johnson will deliver an address tomorrow evening, with speculation rife that he will impose new restrictions.

The UK’s four chief medical officers – Professor Chris Whitty, Dr Michael McBride, Dr Gregor Smith and  Dr Chris Jones – said the alert level should be raised to its second highest possible point.

Level four would mean that “social distancing continues” and that “transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

Level five would mean the UK is in lockdown.

The statement read: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the COVID-19 alert level should move from Level 3 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation) to Level 4 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially).

“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 a concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Sadiq Khan not invited to emergency Cobra meeting on second UK wave

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the statement “reflects the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus”.

“This country now faces a tipping point in its response and it is vital everybody plays their part now to stop the spread of the virus and protect lives,” he said.