Coronavirus: ‘Grit your teeth and pull together’ – but will Britons heed PM’s appeal? | UK News

The prime minister has urged the public to stick to new coronavirus rules to avoid the potential of a new national lockdown – our correspondents give their analysis.

Thomas Moore, science and medical correspondent

Can you smell the coffee? This was a wake-up call for the nation.

It’s not just cases of COVID-19 rising now. There are more hospital admissions, more patients needing intensive care and more deaths.

It’s still nowhere near as bad as the peak of the first wave, but the trend is clearly causing concern in Downing Street.

The maps show England’s epidemic is playing out in a very different way second time around.

Back in the spring the virus was evenly spread across the country, but now it is focused in the North East, North West and Yorkshire. It is a striking difference.

The darker colours show which areas are struggling the most with cases
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COVID admissions are rising most steeply in northern England

There was a moment in the news briefing when the prime minister realised how those maps might be interpreted; that they might give licence to people in low-risk areas to relax about the rules on social interactions.

“This remains a national threat, we have to fight it together,” he said.

There was some good news in all the charts.

Rates in young children are low and holding steady. Despite the hullabaloo over schools going back, it hasn’t put children at increased risk. That is hugely reassuring for parents.

Kate McCann, political correspondent

The decision to call another press conference flanked by his two top scientific advisers suggests the prime minister wants people to take seriously the warnings of a second peak.

He had nothing new to announce today, but after a week of criticism about his handling of the pandemic Boris Johnson was determined to reiterate the importance of restrictions currently in place.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson said a new national lockdown could not be ruled out

The potential for people to ignore measures in a second wave has always been a concern for experts, so Mr Johnson made clear that unless people follow the rules a national lockdown can’t be ruled out.

He called for people to grit their teeth and pull together as Professor Chris Whitty praised the altruism of the British people and warned there is a “long winter ahead”.

There was a sense from both scientists that they would introduce more measures if they could.

Both warned that COVID-19 is spreading out of control in some areas and stressed the potential for stricter controls to slow it.

Sir Patrick Vallance reiterated the need for ministers to take the advice they are given and make decisions based on it.

Ultimately, we learnt nothing new practically, but it was clear that there’s a desire in Number 10 to ensure people understand the potential for everything to get worse again this winter.

They are watching the statistics closely and hoping that the message that this isn’t over has got through.

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