Boris Johnson urged to 'push the panic button' as coronavirus cases rise

21 August 2020, 18:57

"It's time to push the panic button," says former CSA

By Fiona Jones

The UK's former Chief Scientific Advisor has urged Boris Johnson to "push the panic button"

Earlier today it was reported the UK's coronavirus R number has risen to between 0.9 and 1.1, according to figures released by the government's scientific advisory group.

According to data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science (GOS) and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the UK's infection rate has now increased from the range of between 0.8 and 1.0 one week ago.

The R number represents the number of people on average someone with Covid-19 will likely go on to infect. The government scientists suggests that any number above one should be avoided at all costs.

Former Chief Scientific Adviser and independent SAGE chair Sir David King confirmed that this news is indeed "yikes."

Sir David told LBC's Eddie Mair: "Overall we've risen from a number of around 4,000 to 6,600 and I would say time to push the panic button.

Boris Johnson has been urged to "press the panic button" over rising numbers of Covid-19 infections
Boris Johnson has been urged to "press the panic button" over rising numbers of Covid-19 infections. Picture: PA

"The month of August, a summer month, is a time where we should have got Covid-19 down to close to zero. We should have put the flames out instead of letting the embers continue...far too early we lifted some of the lockdown measures, in particular having pubs able to serve people indoors.

"A little more patience on that, even from mid-July onwards, and we would have been close to zero now."

Read more: Covid-19 pandemic will 'hopefully' be over in two years, WHO says

Read more: Coronavirus R number in UK 'rises to between 0.9 and 1.1'

He continued that the reason why this is "very serious" is due to the imminent opening of schools and universities: "That is again going to be risky if we have this level of infection in the country at large.

"The Government has to respond and respond extremely quickly."From this point the Prime Minister should stop the serving of food and drink indoors, he told Eddie.Sir David acknowledged that local outbreaks across the country will have skewed the overall figures, but this was still "absolutely to be anticipated."

"Tardy action by Government is really underlying this situation."