Covid-19: ‘Eye of the storm’ lockdown warning as cases rise

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

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People must take lockdown seriously as "we are now in the eye of a storm", an expert has warned, amid record hospital admissions for Covid-19.

Prof Peter Horby said the situation was "much worse" than in March.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said "every flex in the rules could be fatal".

It comes after almost 60,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the UK on Saturday and the number of deaths after a positive test passed 80,000.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the rules were tough but "may not be tough enough" and called for the government to hold daily press conferences to avoid "mixed messages".

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Prof Horby, who is chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said there may be "early signs that something is beginning to bite" in terms of the restrictions – but if they did not then stricter measures would be needed.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "I really hope people take this very seriously. It was bad in March, it's much worse now.

"We've seen record numbers across the board, record numbers of cases, record numbers of hospitalisations, record numbers of deaths."

"We are in a situation where everything that was risky in the past is now more risky," he said.

Prof Horby said the early signs were encouraging that the vaccines would be effective against the new Covid variants – first identified in the UK and in South Africa – and he did not want people to "hide under the duvet".

"We can see the end game now," he said.

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