A senior Government scientist and Sage member has told i half-term could be extended to two weeks in late October if NHS is pushed to the brink of capacity.
The Government has drawn up plans for an October “firebreak” Covid lockdown should hospitalisations continue at their current level and threaten to overload the NHS, a senior Government scientist has told i.
The member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the UK is about to enter “an extended peak” of infections and hospitalisations, which are in danger of pushing the NHS beyond breaking point and could force the Government to re-introduce restrictions over the school half term period at the end of next month.
A full lockdown is unlikely and would be a last resort, but there are a range of measures the government could introduce.
“This is essentially the precautionary break that Sage suggested last year,” said the Sage source. “It would be sensible to have contingency plans, and if a lockdown is required, to time it so that it has minimal economic and societal impact.”
The Government scientist added that while Covid deaths are significantly higher than at the same point 12 months ago, they would have to rise fivefold to match those experienced in late October last year.
“We are going to be at a peak, albeit an extended peak, quite soon, so it’s not really the same situation as last year, when failure to reduce prevalence would have resulted in collapse of NHS and people dying in car parks,” he added.
“Hospitals might be overflowing before deaths reach the same level. Acting early will prevent this level.”