Boris Johnson has told reporters the UK is “now seeing a second wave coming in”.
The UK R number, which represents the number of people an infected person will pass the virus to, has risen to between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning cases can rise very quickly, according to Sage.
Public Health England (PHE) warned that data published on Friday could be a sign of “far worse things to come”, as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said cases are thought to have almost doubled in a week to 6,000-a-day in England.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the Prime Minister said it was “inevitable” that coronavirus would hit the country again.
During a visit to the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford, Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “Obviously, we’re looking very carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days and there’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in.
“We are seeing it in France, Spain, across Europe – it has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.”
He said a second lockdown was the “last thing anybody wants” but said the current measures would need to be kept “under review”.
“On Monday we brought in the measures that we did, the ‘rule of six’, to really try and restrict what people are doing and to bring in a new buffer – and to make it absolutely clear, the ‘rule of six’: indoors six maximum, six outdoors maximum,” said Mr Johnson.
“But the crucial thing is at the same time to observe the basic rules on social distancing – hands, face, space – that is what everybody has got to do if we want to continue to beat this thing.
“But as we look at this particular curve and what is happening now, clearly we are going to keep everything under review. I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all, it is the last thing anybody wants.
“I don’t want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all, we want to keep schools open and it is fantastic the schools have gone back in the way they have. We want to keep the economy open as far as we possibly can, we want to keep businesses going…”
It comes after the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed on Friday that there has not been a Cobra meeting since May 10 and he has not spoken to Mr Johnson in four months.
Nicola Sturgeon and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also backed Mr Khan’s calls for an emergency meeting. Cobra is shorthand for the Civil Contingencies Committee, meeting involves a cross-departmental committee that comes together to respond to national emergencies.