The next two weeks are ‘absolutely crucial’ in making sure England comes out of lockdown on December 2 as planned, a Government scientific adviser has warned.
SAGE member Professor Susan Michie says the next fortnight will determine what restrictions will be set in place when the country comes out of lockdown – ultimately deciding if people will be able to spend Christmas with their loved ones.
The behavioural scientist has urged the public to not become complacent with the announcement of a potential coronavirus vaccine as it makes ‘no difference’ to the current wave.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Professor Michie said: ‘It’s too early to know. I think the next two weeks is going to be absolutely crucial.
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‘They’re going to be a very challenging two weeks, partly because of the weather, partly because, I think, the promise of a vaccine may be making people feel complacent.
‘But the vaccine is very unlikely to come in until the end of the year or beginning of next year and that’s going to make no difference to the current second wave.
‘So I think for the next two weeks, everybody has to really get all their resolve together.’
The top professor has asked people to ‘really pay attention to resisting any urges to break the rules’ as keeping to national restrictions will ‘maximise the chance’ of coming out of lockdown.
It comes as newly-released documents – written the day before the second national lockdown was imposed – reveal a modelling subgroup of Sage raised concerns about returning to the tier system.
If the lockdown is ‘well-adhered to’, it is likely to reduce the reproduction number to less than one, modelling found.
In this scenario, hospital admissions and deaths could be expected to fall until at least the second week of December.
However, the November 4 document adds: ‘If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.’
Other documents from late October state that any hopes of families gathering over the festive season will also be dependent on the R value staying below one for ‘some time’.
Sage announced on Friday that the R number in the UK had fallen to 1-1.2, with experts believing it is already below one in some places.
It is hoped the R will drop in more areas over the next two weeks as the English public remains under lockdown restrictions.
Government data shows 462 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the UK death toll to 51,766.
There have also been 26,860 new cases across the country – a slight decrease from the 27,301 recorded on Friday.
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