Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the London-based research charity the Wellcome Trust, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has expressed his fear about coronavirus returning, and expects a rise in the number of new cases heading into July. The government adviser said learning how to get control of localised outbreaks could avoid a new disaster like the one that began to devastate the country in March. He said cases could begin to rise in a matter of days, after weeks of lockdown easing.
Sir Jeremy said: “In truth, the restrictions started to to be lifted towards the end of May, the beginning of June, around that bank holiday.
“I would predict, I would guess, that we will start to see a few increases in cases towards the end of June or the first week of July.”
But he fears a real second wave of coronavirus infections is likely to emerge in the autumn and winter, and could start in October and November.
Sir Jeremy warned driving this new spike would be the fact common colds and the flu will be circulating by then, with people struggling to tell the difference between those and COVID-19.
The UK Government has said the main symptoms of coronavirus are a new cough or high temperature, as well as a changed or lost sense of smell or tasted – symptoms that can all be caused by colds and flu.
Sir Jeremy said: “The really difficult thing for all us in September, October, is when we all get normal coughs and colds and children are back going to school and they get respiratory infections that are normal at that time of year: have we got the capacity to distinguish normal respiratory infections – influenza and others – from Covid-19?
“Can we interrupt the chains of transmission immediately, within 48 hours, of new cases starting?
“And there will be some disruption of that as people with coughs and colds come into work, come into school places, and people need to think through the consequences of that.
“Through July and August, if we do things sensibly, we can prevent the national catastrophe that happened in March and April.
“If we don’t – if we don’t have those core national infrastructures in place – then we will see a very nasty rebound in the winter.”
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7.40am update: Germany’s STRICT new lockdown measures amid coronavirus second wave
Germeny has tightened some of its coronavirus measures to prevent its spread, including mandatory quarantines for domestic travellers.
The introduction of new measures was prompted by a string of outbreaks across the country.
The restrictions come as the state of Bavaria revealed its “free test offensive”, while Berlin started to issue fines to those refusing to wear face coverings.
Other states have introduced bans and quarantines for travellers who originate from heavily-affected areas.
People travelling from the town of Gütersloh in North Rhine Westphalia must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival at most states, or other wise present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.