The UK has the highest death toll across Europe after surpassing more than 40,000 and concerns about a second spike in the deadly virus have already be raised. Now scientific experts have warned the UK is heading for a difficult winter.
Britain faces threat of winter lockdown
One senior official warned: “We can get away with a lot at the moment because it is summer.
“It is really important that people get ready for the challenges that winter will undoubtedly bring.”
With the annual pressures on the NHS caused by seasonal flu, scientific experts are expecting a harsh winter as they claim the virus flourishes at temperatures of around 4C.
Another senior official said if numbers continue to increase, it is likely there will be another national lockdown.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) revealed the reproduction rate, the average number of people each COVID-19 patient infects – in England is between 0.8 and 1.
UK coronavirus map
According to the Office of National Statistics, around 14,000 people in England currently have the virus.
Now with the threat of a national lockdown in winter, scientists are hoping to push the number of new infections much lower before winter to help cope during a second wave.
Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford, said: “These numbers also tell us that we are unlikely to eliminate the virus from the UK before the winter.
“In any event, the virus has become global.
“Without a vaccine, we have to plan for its presence.”
Second spike of the deadly virus likely in winter
Melbourne, Australia, where it is currently winter, was forced into a second lockdown this week as cases of the virus increased.
Research has claimed vitamin D, obtained through sunlight, plays an important role in the immune system and helps fight off infections.
Leyla Mehmet, from the Really Health Company, told Express.co.uk: “Vitamin D is a potent protector specifically of respiratory immunity.
“Sunshine equals higher levels of Vitamin D, a strong protector of the respiratory system (in every respiratory illness or disease including asthma and COPD) –an essential hormone that is higher where bare skin is exposed to the sun and lower when it is not (such as winter).
“Rain means clouds and clothes, meaning that cold weather restricts our ability to go out there and generate vitamin D.”
Average R value in England
The UK coronavirus death toll increased by 48, the latest official figures released yesterday revealed.
This brought the death toll across all settings to 44,650, the Department of Health said.
This includes hospitals, care homes and the community.
No new fatalities were reported by public health officials in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as Britain’s hospital toll climbed to 33,597.
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Jeremy Hunt urges mandatory face coverings
9.40am update: Russia reports 6,611 new coronavirus cases
Russia has reported a further 6.611 new coronavirus cases taking the nationwide number of infections to a staggering 720,547.
The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 188 people had died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 11,205.
Russia said 497,446 people have recovered from the virus.
Portuguese ambassador Manuel Lobo Antunes
8.50am update: Jeremy Hunt urges people to wear masks in shops
The former Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for people to wear face coverings in shops to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m afraid I do go all ‘nanny’ on that one.
“I understand the public health advice, which is that if there’s a risk of being less than two metres close to someone then you should wear it but if not you don’t have to.
“But it doesn’t answer the basic question which is ‘if I’m going shopping, should I wear a face mask or not?’
“And I think with public health advice in a pandemic you just need simplicity, so I would favour saying we should wear face masks in shops.”
8.40am update: Portugal disappointed to be left out of quarantine-free list
Portugal was left of the list of countries where travellers can avoid having to quarantine when arriving in England.
The rules came into force on Friday with the list including Spain, Germany, France and Italy but Portugal was left out.
The Portuguese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Manuel Lobo Antunes, wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “In this context, as Portuguese ambassador to the UK, I make no attempt to hide my disappointment, or that of my government, in the fact that Portugal was not included on the list of countries whose travellers are exempt from quarantine on their return to the UK.
“We feel the scientific arguments supporting the UK Government’s decision, which we obviously respect, including data, models and other factors, were lacking in detail.
“The economic impact of the UK’s decision to keep Portugal under quarantine is immense and there are fears it could be lasting if not scrapped at the next review in just over two weeks.”
Homeless crisis across the UK during COVID-19
7.55am update: UK government urged to suspend restrictions denying some immigrants financial help
Scottish ministers are calling on the UK government to “do the right thing” and suspend restrictions which deny some immigrants financial help during COVID-19.
Immigration laws state currently that someone will have “no recourse to public funds” if they are “subject to immigration control”.
But during the pandemic, homeless people and those staying in night shelters have been moved to hotels and other more suitable accommodation – with the Scottish Government, local authorities and others paying for it.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “The Scottish Government is not prepared to abandon some of the most vulnerable in our society at a time when they need our help the most.
“The economic impacts of the pandemic are pushing thousands of people further into poverty and hindering their work opportunities. However, thanks to a rapid and coordinated response in Scotland, we have been able to accommodate people who would otherwise be facing destitution, so that they can protect themselves and others during the Covid-19 crisis.
“As a result, many of those restricted by the UK Government’s harmful NRPF policy who were previously sleeping rough or in unsuitable night shelters, and are now being supported in hotels and other self-contained accommodation.
“But the Scottish Government, local authorities and third sector have had to pick up the tab, without additional support from the UK Government.
“So I am again asking that the UK government do the right thing and immediately lift the restrictions of NRPF for the duration of the coronavirus crisis on public health grounds. Furthermore, the money spent just to ensure that everyone in our society is treated fairly and equitably must be repaid.”