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Chief medical officer says he is “not confident” the “base level” measures in tier three will contain outbreaks.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said he is “not confident” that even the toughest local lockdown level announced by the government can control Covid-19.

It comes after prime minister Boris Johnson announced the country will be split up into “medium”, “high” or “very high” – tiers one, two and three – local coronavirus alert areas.

It comes as the Liverpool city region was placed in tier three, meaning pubs, gyms and casinos must close, while numerous other parts of the north, where hospitalisation and lab-confirmed case numbers are spiking, were placed in tier 2.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, alongside Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak on Monday night, Whitty said he was “very confident” that the measures in place “are helping to slow” the second wave.

However, he continued: “I am not confident, and nor is anybody confident, that the tier 3 proposals for the highest rates, if we did the absolute base case and nothing more, would be enough to get on top of it.

“And that is why there is a lot of flexibility in the tier 3 level for local authorities, guided by the directors of public health who are absolutely superb around the country, to actually go up that range so they can do significantly more than the base, because the base will not be sufficient.

“I think that is very clearly the professional view. There are quite a lot more additional things that can be done within that with local guidance.”

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