UK could face second lockdown 'within months, if not weeks', public health adviser warns

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
Members of the public are seen at a bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter, England, Saturday July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Members of the public are seen at a bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter on the weekend pubs reopened following months of lockdown. (AP)

The UK faces a second wave of coronavirus in as little as a few weeks, according to a professor of global public health.

Devi Sridhar, who acts as the public health adviser for Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, warned of “constant outbreaks” as lockdown restrictions ease across the country.

She tweeted: “I know that everyone wants the economy to go full steam ahead in the UK. But I fear we will be in another lockdown within months, if not weeks…

“Eliminate the virus over the summer then open up safely. Otherwise enter winter & flu season in a dangerous halfway house.”

Sridhar’s warning comes just days after pubs, restaurants and bars reopened in England, in what was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

The government is also expected to announce that indoor gyms will reopen by the middle of July, providing strict social distancing measures are upheld.

Sturgeon will also confirm on Thursday if Scotland can move into the third phase of its plan for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Phase three would see customers able to return to hairdressers, restaurants and drink inside pubs, although the first minister has suggested that not all restrictions would be lifted at the same time.

Sturgeon has also said that tourists travelling to Scotland from Spain will have to continue to quarantine.

She said the 14-day quarantine restriction will be lifted on 10 July for people returning or visiting from 39 countries with a low prevalence of COVID-19, including Germany, Norway and Malta.

Continuing her warning, Sridhar added: “I know the economy is suffering and jobs are being lost. I recognise the toll that lockdown has taken and I’m not ‘pro-lockdown’ at all.

“In fact my worry is about a second lockdown and how to avoid this happening. Lockdown/release cycles will destroy society and the economy.”

Last week, scientists warned that the UK is heading for a second wave of coronavirus in winter as lockdown restrictions eased.

Men order beer behind a safety screen at the Forester pub in London, Saturday, July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Men order beer behind a safety screen at the Forester pub in London on 'Super Saturday'. (AP)

In an open letter to the government, they wrote: "Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.

"The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.”

Both the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty have previously stressed the easing of restrictions was not a "risk-free" move.

Whitty said it was "absolutely critical" that people continued to observe social distancing, taking steps to mitigate the spread of the disease when it was not possible to stay two metres apart.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/07/04: A sign reading 'Please stay 2m Apart' on pavements in London. Social Distancing, Hand Sanitiser stations and NHS signage around London as Lockdown restrictions are loosened by allowing Pubs, Restaurants and all retail to re-open. (Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Social distancing signs on London pavements. (Getty)

He warned the virus was likely to be present in the UK until at least the spring of 2021 and that if people returned to their normal patterns of behaviour "we will get an uptick for sure”.

Sir Patrick also warned that despite falling numbers of people infected with the disease, the threat remained.

"Don't be fooled that this means it has gone away. The disease is growing across the world. It is coming down in the UK but it hasn't gone away," he said.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms

How easing of lockdown rules affects you

In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal

How public transport could look after lockdown

How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here

10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety

What to do if you think you have symptoms

How to get help if you've been furloughed