Concern has been raised ahead of the ârule of sixâ restrictions coming into force on Monday
People have been warned against having a âparty weekendâ as a former chief scientific adviser said the UK is âon the edge of losing controlâ of coronavirus.
The public has been urged to act âin tuneâ with Covid-19 guidelines before the ârule of sixâ restrictions come into force on Monday.
The call came as former chief scientific adviser and member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) Sir Mark Walport said the only way to stop the virus spreading is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with, adding that there is an âextremely strong argumentâ that home working should continue.
Tough new Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced for parts of the UK on Friday as cases continued to rise and as the R number â the reproduction number of coronavirus transmission â climbed above one.
New measures banning people from mixing in homes and gardens will be imposed on Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell from Tuesday in response to a rocketing infection rate in the area.
Ahead of the ârule of sixâ coming into play, the chairman of the body representing rank and file police officers raised concerns about behaviour over the weekend.
John Apter, of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: âThere is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.â
Police in Manchester â where a local lockdown has been in force since July 30 â said they broke up a house party of 30 people in the early hours of Saturday.
When asked whether the UK was still in control of the spread of the virus, Sir Mark Walport said: âI think one would have to say that weâre on the edge of losing control.â
He told the BBC Radio 4âs Today programme: âYouâve only got to look across the Channel to see whatâs happening in France, whatâs happening in Spain.
âThe French on Thursday had 9,800 new infections and one can see their hospital admissions and indeed their intensive care admissions are going up.â
He added: âThe short answer is the only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with, that lowers the risk.
âItâs a very very fine balancing act, itâs very important to get youngsters back to school, people to university, but it means weâre going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas.â
The professor said he was âdefinitelyâ still working from home, and told the programme: âWhere people can work from home thereâs an extremely strong argument that they should do so.â
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove urged people to act âin tune withâ the rules this weekend, telling BBC Breakfast: âIf people do behave in a way that is not really in line or in tune with the guidelines that have been put out, then they are putting other people at risk.
âThe reason why the countryâs police chiefs have said that they hope people behave with appropriate restraint this weekend is we do not want to see a further acceleration of the spread of the virus.â
Mr Gove said Sir Markâs warning is a âwarning to us allâ, telling the Today Programme: âI think Sir Markâs words â heâs a very distinguished scientist â is a warning to us all.
âThereâs a range of scientific opinion but one thing on which practically every scientist is agreed is that we have seen an uptick in infection and therefore it is appropriate we take public health measures.â
And asked whether the Government should consider a carrot and stick approach with better financial support for those self-isolating as well as fines for breaches, Mr Gove told the Today programme: âI think it is a very fair point.â
Elsewhere, Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared in a video on TikTok which was posted on the TikTok_uk account.
In the video, he says that âno matter what your age itâs incredibly important that you follow the rulesâ to keep the virus under control.
Coronavirus cases in the UK have risen to the highest level since mid-May, with a total of 3,539 new cases recorded on Friday.
It is the highest daily figure since May 17, and Public Health Englandâs medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle warned it is a reminder of the âongoing risk as the virus spreads throughout the UKâ.
The figure rose sharply from 2,919 the previous day and most cases are people who have been tested in the community.
Data released by the Government Office for Science and Sage showed the estimate for the R value across the UK is between 1.0 and 1.2.
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