Coronavirus not ‘under control’ with pandemic ‘definitely heading in wrong direction’, warns chief scientific adviser

‘Science can provide advice on the situation, ministers need to make decisions on when and how to act,’ says Sir Patrick Vallance

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 30 September 2020 18:16 BST
Patrick Vallance says "we don't have this under control" at coronavirus briefing

Sir Patrick Vallance has warned the coronavirus pandemic is not “under control”, adding that the country is “definitely heading in the wrong direction” with rising case numbers and hospitalisations.

The stark comments from the government’s chief scientific officer came as Boris Johnson insisted he did not want to impose further national restrictions and that it was too early to know if the latest controls were having an impact.

However, the prime minister said: “If the evidence requires it, we will not hesitate to take further measures that would, I’m afraid, be more costly than the ones we have got in effect now.”

Asked at the No 10 coronavirus press conference whether he had concerns the government was not moving quickly enough in tackling the virus, Sir Patrick replied: “It’s very clear that rates are going up - we don’t have this under control at the moment.

“The increases that Chris [Whitty] has described in some areas are of concern and as I’ve said will lead to further problems.

Hinting that he believed further restrictions are necessary, he went on: “The decisions that need to be made are clearly very difficult. None of them are risk-free.

“They all come with some cost, and that is human cost in some form or another. Science can provide advice on the situation, ministers need to make decisions on when and how to act.”

Earlier, professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, warned that the number of patients in hospitals and intensive with Covid-19 was increasing, with a “significant rise” in test positivity in the north-east and north-west of England, and Yorkshire and Humber.

"This increase is accelerating quite rapidly in some of those areas," he said.

He added that hospitalisation is rising, particularly in hotspots, though the figures remain "in a much lower level than at the beginning of April".

Professor Whitty said: "We are pointing out that the direction of travel for both hospitals and intensive care is going in the wrong direction, particularly in these areas that have seen rapid increases in cases."

Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care also showed that as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been 7,108 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with a further 71 people having died within 28 days of testing positive. 

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