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Coronavirus infections are now rising by up to 90,000 people a day across the UK, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser has said.
Sir Patrick Vallance revealed the shocking figures at a Downing Street daily briefing on Thursday, with data from the SPI-M consensus statement warning between 53,000 and 90,000 infections per day may now be occurring.
He told the Downing Street briefing: "One of the reasons that care for other conditions like cardiovascular disease and oncology, cancer care, gets affected is not the measures taken to stop Covid, it’s the patients with Covid who start to occupy beds.
"The more patients there are with Covid, the more the pressure on the healthcare system overall, and the more the other conditions get affected because people don’t have the capacity to deal with it.
"So it is very important to keep the numbers of infections down if we are to reduce the number of hospitalisations."
During Thursday's coronavirus briefing from Downing Street, Boris Johnson also defended his approach to tackling the coronavirus outbreak, warning that an "extreme laissez faire" response, giving people greater freedom, would result in "many thousands more deaths".
But he said another lockdown was "not the right course" for the UK, "not when the psychological cost of lockdown is known to us, the economic cost, and not when it has been suggested that we might have to perform the same sort of brutal lockdowns again and again in the months ahead".
At a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister thanked people for their "bravery" and "patience" in living under coronavirus restrictions.
"There are clear signs that our collective actions are working," he claimed.
The R number – the reproduction rate of the virus – was below its natural level, he said, even though it remained above one, meaning it is spreading.
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It comes as Boris Johnson ruled out any chance of the nation plunging into a total lockdown for a two-week period and accused labour of trying to “turn the lights out”.
The Prime Minister said the low infection rates in South West England and parts of the South East make it wrong to enforce tougher national restrictions.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus infections now stands at 789,229 and the national death toll is 44,158.
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak also unveiled major changes to wage support for millions of workers across the UK on Thursday.
The top Tory was forced to tear up his Job Support Scheme less than a month after announcing it after unions, northern leaders and experts warned it wouldn't be enough.
Facing fears of 500,000 redundancies by Christmas, Mr Sunak raised the proportion of state support for workers who go part-time from November 1.
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- Boris Johnson
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