The UK’s chief medical officers are advising a move from covid alert level 4 up to 5 after advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data.
In a statement Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty and his counterparts for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland say: “Many parts of the health systems in the 4 nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care.
“Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.
“Although the NHS is under immense pressure, significant changes have been made so people can still receive lifesaving treatment. It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS 111.”
They are recommending that the UK COVID-19 alert level move from level 4 to level 5 which is likely to signify national ‘lockdown’ like the first one in March.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the nation tonight (January 4) at 8pm and is expected to outline the tighter measures.
The Speaker of the House of Commons has granted a request from the Government to recall the House at 11.30am on Wednesday (January 6) where MPs will consider public health regulations in light of the upcoming announcement.
Mainland Scotland is to go into lockdown from midnight tonight with a new legal requirement forbidding anyone from leaving their home except for essential purposes. These include essential shopping, education, childcare or to support the vulnerable. Everyone must now work from home where they can.
In a statement the First Minister said a steep increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and the intensity of pressure on the NHS have created a race between the virus and the vaccines now coming online.
As a result, she said it was now imperative that everyone should comply with the message to “Stay at Home” for the duration of January.