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Reports that Boris Johnson rejected calls from scientific advisers to place the UK in a circuit-breaking national lockdown have been met with fury from experts. Former Chief Scientific Adviser and head of Independent SAGE, Sir David King, warned ITV’s Robert Peston that the country would need to shut down “immediately” or risk greater coronavirus infections. At the time of SAGE’s recommendation, new infections were around 6,000 per day. Now the average number of new cases per day is running at 14,500.
Sir David said: “SAGE’s minutes clearly said we need to go into a mini lockdown, a fixed period.
“We believe SAGE is getting it right now, but we also need to see that the test and trace and isolate system is brought up to the point where it is fully functional.
“That’s the key, if we have a functional test and trace then we can manage this.
“I would say go into that lockdown immediately.”
He continued: “If we’d have gone into this second lockdown on September 23, we’d have been seeing more like 5,000 cases a day, not approaching 20,000.
“If we just delay it for another few days, we’re going to see that number rise.
“It’s going to be more and more difficult to chase all of these cases.
“I believe we need to go into a lockdown until we have a test and trace system that is picking up the vast majority of all of the new cases within 24 hours.”
The former Chief Scientific Adviser added: “And we need a control system which puts people into isolation properly.
“That means we also have to introduce support for people going into isolation who are losing their income.
“However, at the moment, there’s a massive structural problem with test and trace.”
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SAGE have reportedly calculated that more than 7,000 lives could be be saved if schools are closed and people are ordered to stay at home for a fortnight from October 24.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a circuit break lockdown to prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”.
However the Prime Minister has said he doesn’t want another national lockdown “right now” because it would harm the economy.
During a live address, he claimed he is taking a “balanced approach” to managing the virus.
A new three-tier system has now been implemented in England to address different levels of the virus around the country.
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