The rate of coronavirus cases in the U.K. is growing exponentially, doubling every seven days, and if the current rate continues, it could reach 49,000 a day by Oct. 13, say the country’s leading advisers.
In a briefing on Monday, Patrick Vallance, the government chief scientific adviser, and Chris Whitty, chief medical adviser, said the next six months are critical as late autumn and winter “benefit” respiratory diseases like COVID-19.
“The seasons are against us,” said Whitty.
“What we’ve seen is a progression where, after the remarkable efforts which got the rates right down across the country, first we saw very small outbreaks, maybe associated with a workplace or another environment; then we’ve seen more localized outbreaks, which have got larger over time, particularity in the cities,” noted Whitty, adding that the only solution was to continue to keep households separate and strictly adhere to hygiene routines and face coverings.
“It is now estimated that roughly 70,000 people in the U.K. have [COVID-19] infection and around 6,000 per day are getting the infection,” said Vallance.
Vallance said only 8% of the U.K. population have antibodies, with the number rising to 17% in London. “The message is simple: the virus has not changed in ability and propensity to cause disease and to cause deaths,” he said.
Vallance did, however, end the briefing on an optimistic note, explaining that vaccines are being developed rapidly.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is expected to address the country on Tuesday, is understood not to be in favor of a second national lockdown, which would have a crippling impact on all businesses, including film and TV production.
The U.K. began resuming production earlier this summer, adhering to government COVID-safe requirements.