Sir Keir Starmer calls for national lockdown 'within 24 hours' to tackle Covid-19

3 January 2021, 15:34 | Updated: 4 January 2021, 06:07

Calls are growing for a new national lockdown in England
Calls are growing for a new national lockdown in England. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Sir Keir Starmer has called for a new national lockdown in England within the next 24 hours, saying coronavirus is "clearly out of control".

It comes after Boris Johnson hinted this morning at tighter regional measures across the country, but refused to put a date on when that could come into force.

But the Labour leader said: "It's no good with the Prime Minister hinting that further restrictions will come into place in a week or two or three, that delay has been the source of so many problems so i say bring in those restrictions now, national restrictions within the next 24 hours.

Sir Keir Starmer has called for a new national lockdown
Sir Keir Starmer has called for a new national lockdown. Picture: PA

Read more: Liverpool council leaders call for another national lockdown as Covid cases soar

"That has to be the first step to controlling the virus."

The Government has been facing increasing pressure to close all schools across the country as cases sky rocket, and was forced into a U-turn on Friday to close all primary schools in London.

But Sir Keir said it was "inevitable" more schools will have to close.

"On schools, I don't want to add to the chaos which would be caused by having all schools closed tomorrow," he added.

"Many will be closed.It is inevitable more schools are going to have to close and the Government needs to plan for children's learning and also for working parents.

"So it is inevitable more schools are going to close.

"But the more important thing in a way is the national restrictions that need to come in in the next 24 hours."

Today was the sixth consecutive day more than 50,000 new cases were confirmed, and the number of patients in hospitals in England with Covid-19 are increasing by around 1,000 each day,

From Christmas Day to 2 January, the number of hospital beds in England occupied by confirmed coronavirus patients climbed by 33%.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told Sky News this increase was the equivalent of "12 extra full hospitals, full of Covid patients" in just eight days.

"So you can imagine why people in the NHS are worried about how quickly this virus is spreading," he added.

Liverpool's council leaders earlier called for another national lockdown to contain the new strain of Covid-19 and prevent a "catastrophe".

The city's acting mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, and the Labour-run city council's cabinet say the speed of the rise in coronavirus cases, driven by the virulent new strain, have reached "alarming levels" and urgent action is now required to save lives and the NHS.

The new strain of Covid-19 transmits faster and is most prevalent in London and the South East, where hospitals have become stretched.

Read more: First Oxford Covid-19 vaccines arrive in hospitals ready for rollout

It is believed the strain is spreading from south to north, leading to increasing pressure on the NHS.

Cases in Liverpool have almost trebled in the past two weeks to 350 per 100,000, despite the city successfully leading on the national pilot for community testing which led to it being the first city to be taken out of Tier 3 and into Tier 2.

More to follow...