(BBC) – The UK’s coronavirus alert level is being upgraded from 3 to 4, meaning transmission is “high or rising exponentially”, its chief medical officers have said.
It comes after the government’s scientific adviser warned there could be 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further action.
On Monday, a further 4,368 daily cases were reported in the UK, up from 3,899.
The prime minister will make a statement in the Commons on Tuesday.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it sounded “very likely” that pubs and other venues in England will be forced to have 22:00 closing times, alongside other measures.
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In a statement confirming their recommendation on moving to level 4, the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said cases were now “rising rapidly and probably exponentially in significant parts of all four nations”.
They urged people to follow government guidelines “to avoid significant excess deaths and exceptional pressure in the NHS” over the autumn and winter.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the move reflected “the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus”.
“This country now faces a tipping point in its response and it is vital everybody plays their part now to stop the spread of the virus and protect lives,” he said.
The alert level, which is recommended by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, was reduced from level 4 to 3 on 19 June – which indicated the virus was “in general circulation” but there could be a “gradual relaxation of restrictions”.
The proposed upgrading comes as the PM prepares to chair a Cobra emergency meeting on Tuesday morning – which will be attended by the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Amid data showing London was “catching up” with Covid-19 hotspots in northern England, the capital’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said he believed acting early, “rather than having to impose more stringent measures later“, was the right thing to do both for public health and the economy.