UK may face 'on-off' lockdowns for six months as Boris to announce 'circuit breaker' to tackle second wave in days

BRITAIN may face on-off lockdowns for SIX MONTHS as the PM is set to announce a two-week "circuit breaker" to tackle the ongoing pandemic.

Boris Johnson could reportedly announce the new fortnight shutdown as early as Tuesday as the country lurches towards a second wave of Covid-19.

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And a government source has told The Sun Online the UK could face short, sharp lockdowns for the next six months until a vaccine is ready to tackle the killer respiratory disease.

Members of Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have suggested using the "circuit breaker" tactic repeatedly to quash waves of infections.

The looming two-week shutdown will see restaurants and leisure facilitiesclosed while schools and offices stay open.

Number 10 has been told by the government's Joint Biosecurity Centre, which monitors infections, that Britain is six weeks behind Spain, which recorded 239 deaths on Thursday.

Experts have warned coronavirus deaths could rise unless another lockdown is introduced sooner rather than later.

A senior government source told The Times: "We can see what’s happening.

It comes as…

  • UK coronavirus daily cases rose above 4,000 yesterday for first time since May with 4,322 new infections and 27 deaths in the previous 24 hours
  • The country's R-rate hit 1.4 with scores of Covid hotspots emerging across the country in recent weeks.
  • A new 90-minute coronavirus test is 94 per cent accurate, experts have revealed
  • Thousands of kids with colds are being sent home from school over fears they have the deadly bug

"By mid to late October if we don’t do anything then obviously that’s going to put us in a situation that looks more like we were earlier in the year.”

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose advice led to Boris putting the UK on lockdown, has recommended "rolling back" freedoms "sooner rather than later" by "reducing contact rates between people".  

Boris said yesterday a second wave was “inevitable” yet insisted he will not impose the same strict lockdown as March.

But he warned new restrictions are needed because the “rule of six” hasn’t done enough to quell the virus — with cases now doubling every week, and the R rate rising to between 1.1 and 1.4.

Prof Andrew Hayward, of University College London, told Times Radio: “One of the measures is the idea of a ‘circuit break’, which is really instead of waiting until things have got out of control and needing that long lockdown.”

Asked if that “circuit break” was needed within days, he said: “Yes.”

Furthermore, a Whitehall source said there are fears among officials of being branded "being sluggish" if the government were slow to react to rising cases, adding: "It feels like we're back where we were in February and March".  

Figures showed infections have almost doubled in a week with 6,000 people a day picking up the bug in England.

It compares with just 3,200 a week earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The change in the R rate, estimated by SAGE, means the virus is rising exponentially again.

Another 2.3million people will be living under local lockdowns from Tuesday after curbs were announced for parts of Merseyside, Lancashire, West Yorkshire and the Midlands.

That means a total of 12.3million — or one in five of the population — will be living under some form of lockdown even before new nationwide restrictions are announced.

The PM met with top advisers on Wednesday night, who told him that a short period of lockdown restrictions would soften the blow of the second wave on the NHS.

They warned him that failing to act quickly enough will leave hospitals deluged, forcing routine operations to be cancelled again.

Some urged him to coincide the fortnight lockdown with October half term, extending the break by a week.

The PM is spending the weekend agonising over his next move.

Speaking in Oxfordshire yesterday, he said: “I don’t want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all.

“We want to keep schools open and it is fantastic the schools have gone back in the way they have. We want to keep the economy open as far as we can. We want to keep businesses going.

“What I don’t want to do is get into a second national lockdown. It’s the last thing anyone wants.

“I’ve said for several weeks we could expect a second wave.

“We are seeing it across Europe. It has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.”

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