UK ‘on edge of losing control’ of coronavirus, top scientist warns


The UK is ‘on the edge of losing control’ of coronavirus, a top scientist has warned.

It comes as police urged the public not to treat this weekend as as ‘party’ ahead of the new ‘rule of six’ coronavirus restrictions coming into force on Monday.

Gatherings of more than six people will be banned and those caught flouting the rules could be hit with a £100 fine.

The R value of coronavirus transmission across the UK has officially risen above 1 for the first time since early May.

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport said the only way the UK could stay on top of the virus was for people to limit who they came into contact with.

He told the BBC: ‘I think one would have to say that we’re on the edge of losing control.

‘You’ve only got to look across the Channel to see what’s happening in France, what’s happening in Spain.

‘The French on Thursday had 9,800 new infections and one can see their hospital admissions and indeed their intensive care admissions are going up.’

Sir Mark added: ‘The 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.

‘It’s a very, very fine balancing act, it’s very important to get youngsters back to school, people to university, but it means we’re going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas.’

On Friday, Birmingham, the UK’s second-largest city, and Sandwell and Solihul, became the latest areas to be hit with local lockdown restrictions. Residents in all three locations will be banned from mixing with other households from Tuesday.

Pubs and bars across England were packed last night ahead of the new limitations on socialising coming into force.

‘There 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,’ chairman John Apter said.

‘Using the current situation as an opportunity and excuse to party would be incredibly irresponsible and put pressure not only on policing, but potentially on the ambulance service and NHS.’

A total of 3,539 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK on Friday – the highest level since mid-May.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared in a video on the TikTok UK account after previously warning young people were making up the majority of new infections.

He told users ‘no matter what your age it’s incredibly important that you follow the rules’ to keep the virus at bay.


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