Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Times Radio: “A bad flu epidemic combined with coronavirus could put enormous pressure on the NHS. The relatively good news, I think, is that in the southern hemisphere their winter flu wasn’t too bad.
“It may be that social distancing reduced the flu as well.
“But were we to abandon social distancing, it is absolutely clear we would get a second major wave of the infection.”
The warning comes as the UK recorded 1,041 coronavirus cases on Sunday taking the total number of confirmed infections to 325,642.
Britain’s death toll increased by 6 to 41,429.
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7.30am update: Suggested roadmap to clubs reopening includes face masks
Compulsory face masks and restricting numbers on the dancefloor are among the suggested safety measures which should lead to clubs being allowed to reopen, it is claimed.
The Night Time Industries Association warned the sector has reached a “critical point”, with no clear reopening strategy in place.
A new report, supported by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, looks at how clubs could reopen safely.
Measures include temperature checks for guests, mandatory face masks and restricting capacity.
7.25am update: New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown
New Zealand has extended a lockdown in Auckland until the end of the week and ordered mandatory face masks on public transport across the country.
The city’s lockdown, imposed on August 11, had been due to end on Wednesday.
Around 150 people have tested positive for coronavirus as part of a cluster that started in Auckland.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “”This is a contained cluster. But it is our biggest one. And that means the tail will be long, and the cases will keep coming for a while to come.”
7.20am update: Boris plea to parents to send children back to school
Boris Johnson has urged parents to send their children back when schools reopen next month.
The Prime Minister said: “I have previously spoken about the moral duty to reopen schools to all pupils safely, and I would like to thank the school staff who have spent the summer months making classrooms Covid-secure in preparation for a full return in September.
“We have always been guided by our scientific and medical experts, and we now know far more about coronavirus than we did earlier this year.
“As the chief medical officer has said, the risk of contracting Covid-19 in school is very small and it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and wellbeing to be away from school any longer.
“This is why it’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom to learn and to be with their friends. Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than returning to school.”