Coronavirus: Warning of ‘uptick’ in intensive care admissions as PM says follow rules to avoid new lockdown

Boris Johnson has warned Britons that the “only way” to avoid a new national lockdown is to follow the latest coronavirus rules.

The prime minister, flanked by his chief medical and scientific advisers for the 100th coronavirus briefing from Downing Street since the start of the pandemic, said the UK faced a “critical moment” in the fight against COVID-19.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there had been a “significant uptick” in the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care in northeast England, northwest England and London.

“The direction of travel for both hospitals and intensive care is going in the wrong direction, particularly in the areas that have seen rapid increases in cases,” Prof Whitty said.

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Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, also warned: “This is headed in the wrong direction, there is no cause for complacency.”

Mr Johnson recently introduced the “rule of six” in England and last week imposed a 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants.

He made repeated pleas for the public to follow the new national restrictions, as well as the localised measures that have been introduced across large parts of the UK.

The prime minister also refused to rule out further measures to slow the spread of transmission.

He said ministers and scientists would have to “watch what’s happening” with their aim to avoid another national lockdown, as was enforced in the spring.

“What we are not doing at the moment is going back to the situation we were in in March,” Mr Johnson said.

“And, I really don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go back to a national lockdown where the overall guidance is stay at home, that is not what we are saying.

“We want to keep the economy moving. We want to keep young people, pupils in education.

“But the only way we can do that is if we all follow the guidance and depress the virus.”

Mr Johnson said the prospect of new national restrictions was “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,” he added.

But the prime minister suggested the virus may now be spreading in a different way now to how it was in March.

“We are seeing some very clear local peaks,” he said.

“It may be that this is a more localised phenomenon this time in which case all the more reason for us to concentrate on these local solutions as well as these national solutions.”

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