By Jasmin Gray
The government’s new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions should be scrapped in favour of a short, sharp national lockdown, scientists have warned, saying that the current rules are likely to make “little difference” to spiralling Covid-19 infections.
From Saturday, 26.7m people in England will be under tier 2 lockdown restrictions, while
Haque added: “Clarity is really important here and it’s really important that we’re all in this together, given that cases are high across the country.”
Data published by the government on Friday revealed that the pandemic is growing in all areas of England, with the national reproduction (R) rate of the virus between 1.3 and 1.5.
However, while it is areas of the north-west that are currently under the strictest lockdown restrictions, it is the south-west where the virus is spreading most rapidly.
According to the figures, the R-rate in the south-west is between 1.3 and 1.6, meaning that every 10 people with Covid-19 will go on to infect between 13 and 16 people.
Meanwhile, the number of new infections in the south-west is growing between 6% and 10% every day.
But it’s not just the Independent Sage members who have called the effectiveness of the government’s alert level system into question.
Professor Hynek Pikhart, an expert in epidemiology and medical statistics at UCL, warned that evidence from the UK – and internationally – suggested tier 2 restrictions “do not work and do not slow down infection progression”.
He told HuffPost UK: “I am even quite pessimistic personally about the effect of tier 3 restrictions, and am worried we may need even stricter restrictions. It seems to me the restrictions for the whole UK may be necessary.”
At a Downing Street press conference on Friday, the prime minister defended the government’s three-tier system, saying he would resist another national lockdown “if at all possible”.
“Some have argued that we should introduce a national lockdown instead of targeted local action and I disagree,” Johnson said.
“Closing businesses in Cornwall where transmission is low will not cut transmission in Manchester.
“So, while I can’t rule anything out, if at all possible, I want to avoid another national lockdown with the damaging health, economic and social effects it would have.”
A government spokesperson said: “The prime minster has made his views clear on a national lockdown and reiterated that our three-tiered approach is the right way forward, based on the different levels of prevalence of the virus across the UK.”
They continued: “NHS Test and Trace is breaking chains of transmission thanks to local and national teams working closely together and since it launched over 900,000 people who may otherwise have unknowingly spread coronavirus have been contacted and told to isolate.
“We are reaching the majority of people testing positive and their contacts and are providing tests at an unprecedented scale, with capacity expanding further to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.”