Covid: Sajid Javid warns cases could go as high as 100,000 a day

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Sajid Javid warned daily cases could hit 100,000 per day (Picture: Getty)

Sajid Javid has warned that Covid cases could go as high as 100,000 per day as he told a Downing Street press conference: ‘This pandemic is not over.’

The Health Secretary fronted a televised briefing on Wednesday evening amid mounting concern about rising deaths and infections, as well as a faltering vaccination programme.

The Government’s latest figures show that the UK has recorded more than 49,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, while the number of deaths has jumped by 20% compared to last week.

No 10 has insisted there are no plans for another lockdown, but there have been growing calls for ministers to trigger its Plan B to avoid ‘stumbling into a crisis’ in the winter months.

Mr Javid told the news conference: ‘We have always known that the winter months would pose the greatest threat to our road to recovery.’

He said the ‘darker skies and the colder weather provide the perfect conditions’ for Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses to thrive, adding: ‘We are starting to see this impact.’

Although deaths ‘remain mercifully low’, Mr Javid said ‘they are still sadly over 100 a day’.

The Health Secretary warned: ‘This pandemic is not over.

‘Thanks to the vaccination programme, yes the link between cases and hospitalisations and deaths has significantly weakened, but it’s not broken.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned the pandemic is ‘not over’ (Picture: PA)

He reiterated that the Government will not be implementing its Plan B strategy ‘at this point’, but said: ‘We’ll be staying vigilant, preparing for all eventualities while strengthening our vital defences that can help us fight back against this virus.’

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor earlier called on the Government to not just announce ‘that we’re moving to Plan B, but it should be Plan B plus’.

He told The Guardian: ‘We should do what’s in Plan B in terms of masks… working from home, but also we should try to achieve the kind of national mobilisation we achieved in the first and second waves.’

Speaking on the BBC Today programme earlier, he said: ‘What we’re facing here is a perfect storm.

‘Winter is always very tight for the NHS for a number of reasons, you add in then the number of Covid patients in hospital and that number seems now to be rising.’

The UK again recorded close to 50,000 new cases on Wednesday (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
There have been calls for the Government to implement its contingency measures (Picture: Reuters)

He added: ‘I don’t underestimate that these are inconveniences but we have to make a choice if we can see what is almost inevitable down the line.’

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng this morning said the Government does not want to go back into lockdown over the winter, telling Sky News: ‘We don’t want to go back into lockdown or into further restrictions.’

Challenged about ministers saying the same thing last year before further measures were introduced, he added: ‘This time last year, we didn’t have the vaccine.’

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But Professor Andrew Hayward, an epidemiologist at University College London and a member of Sage, said we need to ‘speed up’ the rollout of vaccines.

He told Times Radio: ‘We are entirely reliant on the vaccination programme to reduce hospitalisations and deaths, and we know immunity from those vaccines, it has waned quite a lot over the course of five or six months, and there is evidence it is not from infection but also severe disease.

‘It is important for people if they have been offered a vaccine to take that up.’

He said the Covid booster programme could take time to roll out, ‘by which time we could have had a major peak and we know from the NHS they are already experiencing great pressures on hospitals, and that is going to get worse as we go into winter’.

Prof Hayward went on: ‘Two things that will help are a) the vaccinations, but b) social distancing, and the most effective way of achieving better social distancing is those people who can easily work from home should do so – it makes everything less crowded for everybody and less transmission.

‘Wearing masks will make a difference, and we have, as a society, given up on that, which is a shame.

‘There are tools we can use and, while some are an inconvenience, they aren’t a drag on the economy.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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