Coronavirus cases are rising by at least 6000 per day in the UK, hospital admissions are doubling every eight days, and the testing system is buckling.
If that trend continues, there could be 50,000 new cases every day by the middle of October. And 200 people would be killed each day at that rate.
That was the warning from the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance on Monday night (Australian time).
“At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days,” Dr Vallance said during a televised briefing.
“If that continues unabated … by mid-October you would end up with something like 50,000 cases per day.
“The challenge, therefore, is to make sure that the doubling time does not stay at seven days … and to make sure that we do not enter into this exponential growth.”
Britons are on edge for another day as it becomes increasingly likely they are headed for another round of lockdown.
Speculation is mounting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce closures of some businesses later on Tuesday (Australian time).
The Sun newspaper is reporting that the UK government was expected to announce restrictions – including full closures in some areas – on bars and restaurants, with pubs having to close their doors at 10pm.
Meanwhile, Britons are being urged to dob on neighbours who don’t comply with coronavirus restrictions.
The direction came from UK health secretary Matt Hancock, who warned the nation was at a “tipping point” and that a country-wide lockdown could be just around the corner.
When asked on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show whether he would call the police on a neighbour who was breaking the rules, Mr Hancock replied: “Yes”.
“If everybody follows the rules – and we’ll be increasingly stringent on the people who are not following the rules – then we can avoid further national lockdowns,” Mr Hancock said.
“But we, of course, have to be prepared to take action if that is what is necessary. I don’t rule it out. I don’t want to see it.”
His caution comes as Europe suffers a second wave of infections.
Already, Europe’s weekly cases have surpassed those reported when the pandemic first peaked in March, according to the World Health Organisation.
During that time, hundreds of people were dying from COVID-19 every day in hard-hit countries like Spain, Italy, the UK and France.
Hospitals – and cemeteries – were stretched beyond capacity.
And some fear the nightmare will repeat itself.
Between September 3 and 17, more than half of European countries reported a greater than 10 per cent increase in coronavirus cases after hitting an all-time low in June, WHO reported.
Alarmingly, the number of fresh cases in seven of those countries more than doubled in the same period.
“We have a very serious situation unfolding before us,” WHO’s regional director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, said.
On Monday, the French health ministry reported a staggering 10,569 new coronavirus cases in just 24 hours, down from the previous day’s record jump of 13,498.
Meanwhile, Londoners are bracing for another lockdown after the UK reported 3899 fresh coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 394,257.
New laws in England mean people who break self-isolation requirements now face fines of up to £10,000 ($17,700).
WHO data shows people aged between 25 and 49 spread the virus more than any other group in the first week of September.
Summer travel could come back to bite
Although each European country set its own quarantine rules for travellers during summer holidays, it’s unlikely these precautions will be enough to keep the virus contained.
And flying business class, in a private area away from other passengers, wouldn’t have offered travellers much protection, either.
That’s according to a recent study, which revealed the risk of catching COVID-19 during a flight could be much higher than first thought.