Health chief warns of a summer Covid surge

A member of the public walks passed a coronavirus warning advert on a bus stop.

A member of the public walks passed a coronavirus warning advert on a bus stop. - Credit: PA

Modelling shows there will be another surge of coronavirus despite the vaccination programme, England's chief medical officer has warned. 

Professor Chris Whitty has told the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee the situation could still "turn bad" very quickly if a close eye is not kept on it.

The warning comes despite the number of confirmed coronavirus cases halving week-on-week across most of Norfolk, according to latest Public Health England figures.

However modelling data considered by the Sage scientific panel has suggested that even under the most optimistic set of assumptions, at least a further 30,000 Covid-19 deaths could occur.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, giving evidence to the Science and Technology Committee via Zoom.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England - Credit: PA

Appearing before the committee on Tuesday morning, Prof Whitty told MPS: "I think a lot of people may think that this is all over.

"I would encourage them to look at what is happening in continental Europe at the moment where a lot of countries are going back into rates going up and having to close things down again having not been in that situation before.


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"I think it's very easy to forget quite how quickly things can turn bad if you don't keep a very very close eye on it."

A man walks past a sign for coronavirus vaccination centre.

A man walks past a sign for coronavirus vaccination centre. - Credit: PA

He said while the vaccines are very good, they are not 100pc effective, meaning that some people will remain vulnerable and could still die.

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He added: "What we are going to see is as things open up, what all the modelling suggests is that at some point we will get another surge of the virus and whether that happens, we hope it doesn't happen soon, it might for example happen later in the summer as we open up or if there is a seasonal effect it might happen later in autumn or in the winter, there will be a further surge and that will find the people who have either not been vaccinated or where the vaccine has not worked and some of them will end up in hospital and some of them will sadly go on to die. That is the reality of where we are."

Roadmap to easing Covid restrictions.

Roadmap to easing Covid restrictions. - Credit: PA

In the step on the government’s ‘roadmap’ to ease restrictions, all children began returning to reopened schools and college this week in what was billed as the "beginning of the road back to normality".

More than half of Norfolk and Waveney is now Covid-free as infection rates continue to tumble across the county.

In all, 68 of the 125 neighbourhoods in the county recently recorded rates of zero per 100,000 – meaning there were so few cases that information was suppressed to protect people’s privacy.

Coronavirus testing has seen a big drop in positive cases in Norfolk.

Coronavirus testing has seen a big drop in positive cases in Norfolk. - Credit: PA

Prof Whitty told MPs it was important to wait for four weeks of data before making a decision on the next step.

He said: “The prime minister and ministers have said they want to give people a week's notice before major changes are taken, so people can make proper preparations either way - you don't have to do handbrake turns or sudden starts dramatically.”

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