Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance addressed the nation this morning (21 September), with Prof Whitty warning “If we do too little, this virus will go out of control.”
They were not joined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson or any members of the cabinet, and did not take questions from journalists.
What did the announcement include?
In their address, the advisers explained how the coronavirus is currently spreading, with Sir Patrick Vallance explaining there is an increase in cases across all age groups.
The adviser said: "Could that increase be due to increased testing? The answer is no.
"It is now estimated that roughly 70,000 people in the UK have Covid infection and around 6,000 per day are getting the infection."
Prof Whitty explained that the very high rates of transmission in the UK are concentrated in some areas, but there are also high rates elsewhere.
He said: "We're seeing a rate of increase across the great majority of the country.”
"This is not someone else's problem, this is all of our problem," added Prof Whitty.
Prof Whitty also explained that even though the mortality rate will be slightly reduced this autumn and winter due to treatment for the virus being better now, there will still be many deaths.
The medical office also noted how ministers will have to make decisions which balance the impact on the economy with the danger of the virus.
Prof Whitty also explained four things that can be done to combat the virus. These are:
- Reducing your individual risk by washing your hands
- Self-isolating if you have symptoms
- Breaking unnecessary links between households
- The science - including diagnostics and vaccines
However, Sir Patrick Vallance did explain that good progress being made on vaccines, and that the UK was in a "good position". He also said that it was possible that a vaccine could be available in small amounts for certain groups by the end of the year.
Will Boris Johnson address the nation?
The Prime Minister is also reportedly set to address the nation this week, potentially issuing tougher coronavirus restrictions as the nation heads into winter.
It is claimed that Mr Johnson could make his TV address on Tuesday 22 September, although this has not been confirmed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that the Prime Minister will set out the "next steps" later this week. Mr Shapps told Kay Burley, "It is clear we are just a few weeks behind what we're seeing elsewhere in Europe.
"You only have to look at what's happening in France and particularly Spain and you can see that things have taken off there, including I'm afraid, deaths. It's very important that we do everything we can to bear down on this.
"It's absolutely vital that people do [follow restrictions] because otherwise we're going to end up back in situations we don't want to be in."
New restrictions to come into place this week
From Tuesday 22 September, around 13.5 million people across different areas of the UK will be facing further local restrictions, including 10pm curfews for pubs and restaurants and no mixing with other households.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also recently refused to rule out further national measures.
Mr Hancock told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, "We have a choice. Either everybody follows the rules - the rule of six and the need to self-isolate if you have a positive test or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace - or we will have to take more measures.”
“Now is the moment,” Mr Hancock added.
“I’m requesting the help of the British people. We truly have got to do this together.”
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, Yorkshire Evening Post.