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Prime minister warns of ‘critical moment’ in battle against Covid-19 second wave

PUBLISHED: 18:34 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:44 30 September 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus. Picture: Jack Hill/The Times/PA Wire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus. Picture: Jack Hill/The Times/PA Wire

The country is at a “critical moment” in the battle with coronavirus, Boris Johnson said amid a warning that hospital admissions and intensive care cases are “heading the wrong way”.

A member of staff collects a completed test kit from a visitor at a Covid-19 testing centre. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireA member of staff collects a completed test kit from a visitor at a Covid-19 testing centre. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Prime Minister used a Downing Street press conference to urge people to follow rules aimed at curbing the spread of the virus and demonstrate “forbearance, common sense and a willingness to make sacrifices for the safety of others”.

He warned that if the evidence required it “we will not hesitate to take further measures” that would “be more costly than the ones we have put into effect now”.

“But 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.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: PA Video/PA WireChief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: PA Video/PA Wire

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Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the number of people in hospital was rising, particularly in hotspots, although the figures remained at a much lower level than the beginning of April.

“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,” he said.

But in a stark warning, Prof Whitty added: “We have got a long winter ahead of us”.

NHS Test and Trace staff at testing centre. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireNHS Test and Trace staff at testing centre. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The prime minister said the latest increases in coronavirus cases showed why the government had been forced to bring in new restrictions.

The country is at a “critical moment”, 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.”

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However he said he recognised how tough things have been for people, paying particular tribute to the students starting a term “unlike anything they could have imagined”.

He said plans are in place to allow them to return to their families at Christmas, if they choose to do so.

But he said the government “will not hesitate” to put further measures in place if needs be, warning that they would be will be “more costly than the ones we have put into effect now”.

But he added it is “too early to tell” what effect the latest measures will have on the transmission figures.


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