A senior government advisor predicted a second wave of corona viruses this year – and warned that the country will remain “up to date” as lockdowns are eased.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, admitted he was “concerned” about a possible increase in infections before the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers next month.
He predicted that “a real second wave will come in October and November in the winter months.” The mirror reports.
And he added that Britain would face a “very bad recovery” of the coronavirus if it didn’t start “sensibly” over the next few months.
The prime minister has said local bans may result if the virus rises – with health officials already closely monitoring an outbreak in Leicester.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “In fact, the restrictions were lifted around this bank holiday in late May, early June.
“I would predict I would suspect that we will see some increases in the cases towards the end of June or the first week of July.
He added: “We are up to date, it is a very precarious situation, especially in England, and I would expect more new cases to emerge in the coming weeks.”
Sir Jeremy, who is also a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergency (Sage), argued that the next three months in the UK’s fight against coronavirus would be “absolutely critical”.
He said: “Come winter, come school reopening, which is absolutely critical, we can expect to see rebounds and second waves.
“The question is whether you start from a very low base, like Scotland, a few dozen cases, or maybe a few hundred cases in England, and then you will be in a good position if there are local outbreaks that you respond to locally can and you can prevent the national disaster that happened in March and April.
“That is the key if we use June, July and August really skillfully to make sure we have everything in place and learn the February and March lessons.”
He said doctors could treat patients with Covid-19 better, but it was still a “very, very bad infection”.
Sir Jeremy added: “You have to move faster than the epidemic, you have to be one step ahead of the pandemic.
“Once you stand behind it, you have exponential growth, you lose track, and it happened across Europe, especially in the UK, in March and April this year.
“We figured it out, we were too slow and as a result the epidemic started and we couldn’t control it.”
Sir Jeremy argued that the government’s test, trace and isolate system must be “fully operational” by September.
Sir Mark Walport, the government’s former scientific advisor, said the United Kingdom must maintain “constant vigilance” as it is no longer locked.
Like Sir Jeremy, he warned that it was crucial to quickly identify new clusters of the virus.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said the government was “straddling the balance” between coping with the virus outbreak and the damage to health caused by a damaged economy.
When asked if the virus could return in winter when the NHS is under more pressure, Sir Mark said, “This is obviously a significant risk.”
He said the virus is likely to last longer in the air and on surfaces in cold and wet environments, suggesting that winter could be a “risky” time.
Sir Mark said people should be “sensible and responsible” and try to reduce social contact as much as possible.
He suggested that outbreaks occur in “clusters”, including certain work environments such as food processing plants, which makes local control important.
“We have to do everything we can to avoid a widespread second wave,” he said.
Sir Jeremy urged people to still be “very careful, especially with indoor events,” as the blocking measures are eased.
He said the end of May easing of the ban was “too early” due to the number of new coronavirus cases per day.
But he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that lower numbers now made it “reasonable” to open the economy.