A SEVERE second wave of coronavirus could hit the country as England remains ‘on a knife edge’ in its battle with the disease, a leading scientist has warned.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), spoke out following last month’s decision to start easing lockdown rules and days before pubs, restaurants and hairdressers are allowed to reopen.
He said: ‘We’re on a knife edge. It’s a very precarious situation, particularly in England at the moment, and I would anticipate we would see an increase in new cases over the coming weeks.’
Sir Jeremy’s warning came as home secretary Priti Patel confirmed health officials were considering locking down Leicester following a sharp rise in cases in the area.
Other places across the country could also follow if they suffer flare-ups of coronavirus outbreaks.
Almost 3,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Leicester since the pandemic began, with nearly 30 per cent of those cases reported in the two weeks up to June 23, according to the city council’s figures.
Appearing on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, Ms Patel said there ‘would be support going into Leicester’, adding: ‘It’s right we have a localised solution.’
But Leicester MP Claudia Webbe said the government should stop dithering and take action immediately. She told BBC News: ‘I don’t know why they’re not enforcing a lockdown (when) the evidence suggests there should be one.’
Yesterday, it was confirmed that the number of UK deaths had risen by 36 in the previous 24 hours to 43,550, although the true toll is believed to be much higher.
Sir Jeremy, who is director of health charity the Wellcome Trust, told Marr that the next three months were ‘absolutely critical’ and it was vital that measures such as test and trace were fully functional soon to prevent a ‘very nasty’ rebound.
‘Come the winter, come the reopening of schools… we can anticipate to see rebounds and second waves,’ he said.
Fears of a second spike have also been heightened by people defying social distancing advice after prime minister Boris Johnson announced last week that ‘our long national hibernation’ was coming to an end.
Crowds have been packing beaches, while police have been tackling illegal raves and street parties.
Black Lives Matter protests and Liverpool fans celebrating their club winning the Premier League have also prompted thousands of people to gather together.