In Brief

Britain’s death toll could hit ‘85,000 in second Covid wave’, leaked Sage documents reveal

Pandemic modelling says fatalities could remain at peak for three months

The UK could face another 85,000 deaths during the second wave of coronavirus, according to leaked government advice.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) documents, leaked to The Spectator, suggest that fatalities could remain high long after Christmas, potentially until March 2021.

Drawn up in late July, the report outlines a scenario in which deaths remain above 500 a day for at least three months, peaking at 800 a day. During the first wave, deaths remained at more than 500 a day for five weeks, peaking at 1,100 a day.

The “reasonable worst case scenario” adds that while thousands of deaths this autumn and winter may be directly caused by Covid-19, a further 27,000 excess deaths from other conditions, such as those caused by “lack of NHS capacity”, can also be expected, the magazine says.

The UK reported another 310 deaths yesterday, bringing the toll to 45,365. With a number of European countries heading back into lockdown, pressure is growing on the government to place the whole of England under Tier 3 restrictions by Christmas, as advised by Sage.

There is “grave concern” among Boris Johnson’s Downing Street team that Britain is now faring even worse than Sage models had anticipated, The Telegraph says.

The experts forecast that in February, around 25,000 hospital beds will be filled by coronavirus patients. However, Professor Mark Walport, a Sage adviser, this week said the grim milestone could be reached by the end of November.

Meanwhile, Imperial College London has warned that the pandemic has reached a “critical” stage in England, with prevalence doubling since last month and the fastest increases in the south, Sky News reports.

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