Boris Johnson press conference: Scientists say Covid-19 is 'not under control yet'

30 September 2020, 18:02 | Updated: 30 September 2020, 18:19

Sir Patrick Vallance offered a stark warning to the British public
Sir Patrick Vallance offered a stark warning to the British public. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said the pandemic is "heading in the wrong direction" and it is "absolutely critical to follow restrictions".

The stark warning was given during a press conference alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

Sir Patrick told the UK it is "absolutely critical" we follow the restrictions.

"This is heading in the wrong direction and we have no cause for complacency at all," he stated.

The Chief Scientific Adviser also said: "It is very clear that rates are still going up. And, so, we don't have this under control at the moment.

"And the increases that Chris Whitty has described in some areas are of concern will lead to further problems."

It comes as the UK recorded 7,108 coronavirus cases and 71 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

The number of cases were slightly down on yesterday, when 7,143 cases were recorded - the largest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic.

PM calls for a 'willingness to make sacrifices' during coronavirus briefing

During the press conference, the Prime Minister said the country was "entirely dependent" on the public's collective action in "driving down the virus", when asked for his "honest assessment" on whether further, nationwide, restrictions were on the way.

Mr Johnson, citing a package of recent measures, restrictions and enforcements - including the so-called rule-of-six limit on socialising - said: "The answer is, I'm afraid, entirely dependent on how effective we are now in collectively driving down the virus. We know we can do it because we did it before, in March and April.

"What we hope is that if people obey the guidance - fulfil the guidance - in the way they can and the way they have in the past, we will get the spread (of the virus) down again.

"The strategy is to do that while keeping the economy open - the vast bulk of the economy open - and keeping young people in education. Those have to be absolutely crucial priorities.

"I'm confident we can do it together if we follow the guidance. But our success will have to be judged in the days and week ahead.

"It is still too early to tell whether that package of measures will be successful."

At this point, Sir Patrick Vallance added: "Things are definitely heading in the wrong direction."

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Boris Johnson has said the latest increase in coronavirus cases showed why the Government had been forced to bring in new restrictions.

During the press conference, MPs approved a motion to renew emergency coronavirus powers for another six months.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street news conference the country was at a "critical moment" and that he would not hesitate to a bring in new measures if required.

"If we put in the work together now then we give ourselves the best possible chance of avoiding that outcome and avoiding further measures," he said.

"I know some people will think we should give up and let the virus take its course despite the huge loss of life that would potentially entail.

"I have to say I profoundly disagree. I don't think that is what the British people want. I don't think they want to throw in the sponge. They want to fight and defeat this virus and that is what we are going to do."

Boris Johnson also said he is confident Britain will get through the latest outbreak of the coronavirus.

"I am absolutely confident that with better treatments and with the prospect of a vaccine we will get through this," he told a No 10 news conference.

"Let's follow the rules, wash our hands, cover our faces, observe social-distancing, download the app, and together we will fight back against this virus, protect the NHS and save more lives."