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Coronavirus: UK must prepare for second wave now or risk 120,000 deaths this winter, major report warns

The government says this “isn’t a prediction” and COVID-19 is being brought under control – but is facing calls to prepare.

Coronavirus infections could grow “out of control” in the UK with a second spike leading to 120,000 deaths in a “reasonable worst-case scenario”, ministers have been warned.

The forecast counts the number of people who could die in hospitals before next June and comes from a report commissioned by Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, released by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

It suggests a second spike could be more serious than the first, with the R rate – the average number of people someone with COVID-19 passes the virus on to – rising to 1.7 from September.

The current R number in the UK is 0.7-0.9.

A rising R number would likely see the UK go back into lockdown, given ministers have warned they will reimpose emergency measures if the R rate rises above one.

Their startling research does not include deaths in the community or care homes – or take into account any extra interventions by the government.

Professor Azra Ghani, an infectious disease epidemiologist from Imperial College London who worked on the report, told Sky News the findings are “not a prediction” but a “worst-case scenario” that could see the coronavirus outbreak grow “out of control”.

“As we move into winter, the weather gets worse, people stay indoors more, windows aren’t open so the likelihood of transmission does of course increase,” she said.

“We also have all sorts of other pressures on the NHS that increase during the winter and therefore extra admissions into hospitals.

“It’s all of these things coupled together that could cause this worst-case scenario. We need the systems to be up and running by September.”  Read more 

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