The UK’s COVID-19 alert level should be upgraded from level three to level four, meaning transmission of the virus is high or rising exponentially, the four nations’ chief medical officers have said.
In a statement, the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said: “After a period of lower COVID cases and deaths, the number of cases are now rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations.
“If we are to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS and other health services over the autumn and winter everyone has to follow the social distancing guidance, wear face coverings correctly and wash their hands regularly.
“We know this will be a concerning news for many people; please follow the rules, look after each other and together we will get through this.”
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer, and Dr Chris Jones, deputy chief medical officer for Wales, took the action after a recommendation by the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the creation of the Joint Biosecurity Centre – and a five-tier alert system to rank the threat from coronavirus – in May this year.