DEATHS caused by the coronavirus could reach 900 a day by January 1, experts have warned.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have claimed that by the New Year the daily death toll could be between 619 and 899.
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The figures are estimates and are based on models produced by he MRC Biostatistics Unit which forecasts coronavirus deaths and infections.
The highest end of the prediction by the experts of 899 deaths a day is nearly double the current figures produced by government scientists which state that at present there are 461.7 deaths a day.
The estimates come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at the weekend that London, the South East and parts of the East of England would enter into tough Tier 4 restrictions.
The new restrictions resemble the second national lockdown in November, with non-essential shops being closed as well as hospitality and gyms.
The Cambridge experts estimate that in England, the current daily number of new infections is 91,000.
But data released by the government today states that across the UK there have been just 33,364 new infections and 215 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Data from the government states that a total of 2,073,511 cases have now been recorded across the UK with today's number of daily infections the fourth highest.
The new figures come after daily deaths and infections doubled in just a week yesterday with cases recording the highest rise ever as 35,928 infections and 326 deaths were recorded.
And this time last week, another 20,263 cases were recorded alongside 232 deaths.
Showing the worrying rise, two weeks ago 14,718 new cases were reported while another 172 deaths were recorded in 24 hours.
Data from the Cambridge experts suggests that the daily number of new infections is particularly high in the East of England, London and the South-East with 14,500, 16,000 and 17,200 daily new infections, respectively.
The experts also noted that a substantial proportion of the infections would also be asymptomatic.
Scientists stated that the report from the Cambridge experts makes for sobering reading.
Prof James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and University of Oxford said there is no reason not to accept these as fairly robust estimates, even at the lower end, it would confirm that the virus is rapidly spreading in the UK.
He said: "There are several possible reasons for these, one is that social distancing has not been effectively implemented or has occurred too late. One explanation is that the new strain spreads more rapidly, it will take time to be sure which is true. Rushing to judgement helps no one, we must know the cause to tackle to problem.
“Whatever happens January and possibly February will be difficult months, with death tolls once again exceeding 500 per day on some days.
“This is a very serious moment, we can all do our part, washing hands, wearing a mask, socially distancing and following government guidance.
“Track and trace has not achieved its goal. The system is at best catching just less than half the actual cases. It is disheartening that such an obvious flaw remains under reported."
R WE THERE YET?
On Friday the government released its latest update on the R rate for the UK.
It stated that the R rate is currently at 1.2 across the UK, with places such as the East of England having the highest range between 1.2 and 1.4.
The R rate must be kept below 1 to cause the outbreak to shrink. Above 1, and cases will continue to rise.
The coronavirus' natural R rate is around 3. But it can be squashed by cutting back on social contact.
Modelling data from the experts at Cambridge University states that R is above one in most regions.
They stated that infections are climbing across the country, with the exception of West Midlands and Yorkshire & The Humber.
Professor Daniela De Angelis, MRC Investigator and Deputy Director said the contribution of the latest lockdown has been "modest and transient".
The lockdown in November was a four week lockdown where all non-essential shops closed as well as gyms.
Prof De Angelis said: "The total number of new daily infections has increased substantially from 58,800 to around 90,000, with rapid increases in the South and East of England, requiring new, stricter measures.
"The rapid spread of the new variant makes any projections of how the pandemic will evolve in the near future highly uncertain. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
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