Britain may have to bring back certain national coronavirus lockout steps earlier rather than later, a leading epidemiologist said on Saturday, as new infections have risen to their highest level since early May.

Neil Ferguson, an epidemiology professor at London’s Imperial College and former government advisor, told the BBC the world faced a “perfect storm” of increasing diseases as people return to work and education.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that he really doesn’t want another national lockout, but that new measures could be required because COVID-19 faced an “inevitable” second wave “I think sooner rather than later, some additional steps will be expected,” Ferguson said.

Ministers announced on Friday contemplating a second nationwide lockdown, with new COVID-19 cases now at their peak in months, rising hospital admissions and rising outbreak rates across northern England and London.

“Right now we’re at the amount of outbreak we’ve seen in this country in late February, and if we left it for another two or four weeks we’re going to be back at levels we’ve seen more back in mid-March, and that’s going to-or may-cause deaths,” Ferguson said.

Saturday government statistics show 4,422 new cases, 100 more than Friday and the largest daily number since May 8, based on positive test results. The actual infection rate could be higher. British statistics department said Friday some 6,000 people a day in England alone potentially contracted the disease during the week to Sept. 10, based on random tests.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, invited Johnson to visit her and the representatives of the devolved Wales and Northern Ireland governments in the next 48 hours to try and ensure concerted action across the UK.” From experience earlier this year, we know that speed and decisiveness are critical in the battle against COVID,” she said.

Britain suffered Europe’s largest COVID-19 death toll, with more than 41,000 deaths on the government’s chosen scale. The dramatic uptick in infections has not yet lead to a comparable spike in reported deaths-partially because cases were clustered among younger adults-but hospital admissions are now starting to climb.

About 10 million residents in areas of northern and central England are now under some form of lockout prohibition, such as a ban on welcoming friends or relatives to their homes or after 10 p.m. visiting pubs and restaurants.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said Friday that tighter lockdowns for Britain’s capital were becoming “increasingly likely.” Around 1,000 protesters resisted current shutdown laws on Saturday, police disrupted a rally in central London when the demonstration did not conform with regulations banning large meetings.

Ferguson sat on the government’s largest science advisory board until May when, after violating lockout laws, he stood down. He said future lockout controls should not be as stringent as those imposed in March to be effective in slowing renewed disease transmission.

Britain’s ability to screen for coronavirus infections has also been compromised after schools in England reopened this month, with many claiming that testing was inaccessible or only possible hundreds of miles away.

“We’re seeing a perfect storm right now, with residents-as they’ve been told to-returning to usual, reopening classrooms, an increase in cases,” Ferguson said.

Source: Thomson Reuters