England may have to reimpose Covid rules in August, scientists warn

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Face masks and other Covid restrictions could be reintroduced in England in as little as three weeks if hospital admissions rise above anticipated levels, scientists advising the government have warned.

Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have reportedly said Boris Johnson should be ready to take action in the first week of August to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed.

The i reports that if admissions exceed central estimates – that daily hospitalisations in the UK will peak at the end of next month at between 1,000 and 2,000 and daily deaths will reach 100-200 – Sage scientists have advised that some measures such as mandatory masks and working from home advice should be reinstated at the beginning of August.

Recent government figures show that in the middle of July – six weeks ahead of the forecasted peak and before removal of England’s coronavirus restrictions on 19 July – the UK had already reached 745 daily hospital admissions and has continued to rise since.

Prof Dominic Harrison, the director of public health for Blackburn, told i: “Any return to non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to control spread would have to focus on those that give the biggest suppression effect.

“Essentially we might expect a reverse through the lockdown lifting steps with each ‘reverse step’ being introduced to match the scale of the surge in cases.”

Photo: Social distancing signs on Southend beach in Southend on Sea, Essex, Britain. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

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