England will is likely to be in a national lockdown by the end of January, a expert advising the government has warned.
Doctor Mike Tildesley, a member of a committee which advises SAGE, said more restrictions are likely.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today, he said: ‘Cases are rising in a really concerning way, so I suspect that unfortunately we will see a ramping-up even further of restrictions, probably more of the country being in Tier 4 or ultimately probably a national lockdown before we get to the end of January’.
The committee he sits, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), advises the government as a subgroup of SAGE, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
It comes as millions more people were plunged into Tier 4 restrictions yesterday.
Three quarters of the country is now in the strictest lockdown level, told to stay at home where possible and barred from meeting up in groups.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs: ‘Sharply rising cases and the hospitalisations that follow demonstrate the need to act where the virus is spreading.’
He said the majority of new cases ‘are believed to be the new variant’, adding: ‘Unfortunately, this new variant is now spreading across most of England and cases are doubling fast.
‘It is therefore necessary to apply tier four measures to a wider area, including the remaining parts of the South East, as well as large parts of the Midlands, the North West, the North East and the South West.’
A new mutant strain of coronavirus has been detected, which spreads more quickly than the previous strain. It was more prevalent in London and the south east of England, but has also been detected elsewhere.
Ministers were forced to act as hospitals near breaking point across the country, with record numbers of patients and more than 50,000 daily cases for two days in a row.
Ambulances were seen queueing outside hospitals in London and Birmingham, while ICUs in the capital have asked major hospitals in Yorkshire to take patients in need of intensive care.
Last night a new plan for schools reopening in January was also announced, meaning many pupils will go back later than planned for in person teaching.
Boris Johnson said that some primary schools, including those in London, would stay closed instead of opening as planned next week.
Secondary school pupils will go back a week later than planned, with exam pupils returning on January 11 and other years returning on January 18.
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