Prime Minister ‘will not hesitate’ to impose stricter Covid-19 restrictions

Boris Johnson has warned he “will not hesitate” to introduce harsher coronavirus restrictions as hospital admissions increase.

The Prime Minister said no matter how “fed up” people were of the measures being imposed, they were the only way to curb the spread of the virus.

His comments at a Downing Street press conference were echoed by a warning from England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who said there was a “long winter ahead of us”.

Mr Johnson said if the evidence required it, further measures could be introduced that would be “more costly” than those already in place.

“But if we put in the work together now, then we give ourselves the best possible chance of avoiding that outcome and avoiding further measures,” he said.

Local lockdowns will be introduced in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham in North Wales from 6pm on Thursday, meaning that a third of the UK population will be subject to some form of extra restriction.

The latest figures showed a further 7,108 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, slightly down on the 7,143 reported on Tuesday.

The Government also said a further 71 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday. This brings the UK total to 42,143.

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been nearly 57,900 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The number of people in hospital is rising, particularly in hotspots, although the figures are at a much lower level than the beginning of April.

Prof Whitty said: “We are pointing out that the direction of travel for both hospitals and intensive care is going in the wrong direction, particularly in these areas that have seen rapid increases in cases.”

There had been a “significant uptick” in the number of people being admitted to intensive care, especially in the North East and North West of England but also in London.

Although the level of cases remained far below the NHS intensive care capacity, it was “definitely heading the wrong way”.

Coronavirus – Wed Sep 30, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed Sep 30, 2020

Almost 200 people had been admitted to hospital with coronavirus in the North West of England in the last week, according to the Government’s Covid-19 dashboard.

Merseyside’s leaders are now expecting extra local restrictions to be imposed but warned the Government must prevent a “hammer blow” to the region’s economy.

The largely locked-down region had 612 Covid-19 patients in hospital on September 29, up from 417 on September 22, figures show.

Meanwhile, Science and Technology Committee chairman Greg Clark has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock asking for the Government to publish the scientific evidence behind the decision to impose a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants earlier this month.

MPs are due to discuss the issue in the Commons on Thursday morning.

Map showing the distribution of positive COVID-19 tests by specimen date in England.

Colour scale and figures in individual hexes show the total number of positive tests in a rolling 7 day period per 100,000 people.

— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) September 30, 2020

Interim findings from the largest Covid-19 study in England have revealed that about one in 200 people were infected with coronavirus.

Research by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori show infections increased substantially across the country before the R rate (of infection) fell to around 1.1, suggesting the growth of infection may be slowing.

Some 80,000 volunteers were tested in England between September 18-26 as part of the country’s largest study into the virus.

The programme’s director Professor Paul Elliott said it could mean that efforts to control the effort were working, but warned the prevalence of the infection was the “highest that we have recorded to date”.

He said the findings “reinforce” the need for protective measures to control its spread.

Elsewhere, the Prime Minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, has apologised after he was pictured in the Mirror newspaper shopping in west London without wearing a face covering.