A second national lockdown could be announced if the latest coronavirus restrictions fail to staunch the rising rates of the virus according to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. He said a second full national lockdown “can’t” be ruled out but the Government would “take every effort to avoid that”. Express.co.uk speaks to experts about the likelihood of a second lockdown being implemented.
There have been more than 400,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the UK since the outbreak began.
On Thursday, September 24, the country recorded its highest daily increase of 6,634, since the pandemic began.
Public Health England said this increase should be “a stark warning for us all”.
But added it does not mean that the spread of coronavirus in the community is anything close to what it was at the peak in early spring because far more testing is taking place now, and so far more positive cases are being picked up.
However, the pace of new infections is on the rise, with Thursday’s total new cases up by almost 500 new cases.
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CEO of PPE manufacturer ViraxCare James Foster said he believed the chances of another lockdown are very high.
Mr Foster said: “The chances of another national UK lockdown are high because the Government has made consistent strategic errors in its Covid response at almost every turn.
“The Government knew that countries in Asia had learned how to deal with pandemics the hard way, and yet it failed to learn the lessons, imitate their strategies and emulate their success.
“Devolved governments couldn’t even put their political differences aside and work together, creating a ridiculous situation where separate countries on a tiny island have completely different rules, creating mass confusion.
“The UK has totally failed to use mass testing to ensure it’s business as usual, and the failure to implement routine testing at Britain’s borders and airports is nothing short of scandalous.
“If you look at what the best performing Asian countries are doing, it is less about circuit breakers and much more about consistent measures over a long period of time, including mass testing targeting the elimination of the virus and, therefore, easier contact tracing.
“Ministers are desperate to avoid school closures because this has a knock-on effect on productivity and businesses but all will depend on how high the cases and death toll climbs.”
Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Kent Martin Michaelis said: “In the end, this is a political decision.
“However, I think that it is likely, if COVID-19 cases keep increasing as they currently do.
“Even if SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is currently spreading largely in younger individuals at a lower risk of severe disease, it will reach more vulnerable groups at some point and cause more hospitalisations and unfortunately also deaths.
“The risk of virus transmission will increase in autumn and winter, because people will spend more time indoors. In particularly in poorly ventilated rooms, SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in the air will become much higher than they would be outdoors.
“Moreover, there is a higher risk of infection via contaminated surfaces, for example via door handles that are used by many.
“Lower temperatures may increase the stability and transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2.
“A lower humidity results in smaller aerosol droplets, which enables them to travel further and infect individuals across longer distances.
“These smaller droplets may also be inhaled deeper into the lungs, which increases the risk of severe disease.
“Hence, there is a severe risk that case numbers continue to rise and that stricter measures become necessary.”
Professor Michaelis added he believes a second lockdown is the best course of action.
He said: “From a virological point of view, yes. However, we also need a long-term plan. Otherwise, we will run from lockdown into lockdown.
“This is not a good way to handle the problem. We need to find a ’new’ normal that enables us to live with the virus without too many restrictions but also without accepting hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths.
“Much will depend on whether there will be a vaccine and/ or effective treatments in the foreseeable future or not.
“If virus control continues to depend on non-pharmaceutical interventions, i.e. on avoiding transmission and identifying and isolating infected individuals, then we will need to bring numbers down and establish an efficient test and tracing system.
“In addition, we will need to change our behaviour to minimise virus transmission.
“We need to develop an instinctive feeling for situations associated with an increased risk of virus transmission and learn to protect ourself by keeping distance, wearing masks, thorough hygiene, and isolating ourselves and contacts when we have symptoms.
“There will never be a “COVID-safe” or “COVID-secure” environment. These terms should be banned.
“However, we can and will have to take on more responsibility as individuals to reduce the risk of transmission.
“The first question should not be ‘Is this allowed within the rules?’ but ‘Is this a prudent thing to do or do I put others and myself at an unnecessary risk?’
“There is an easy way to observe the impact of our behaviour. If common colds spread as they normally do at this time of the year, then SARS-CoV-2 will be spreading, too. If we got things right, we would not see common colds.”