Coronavirus map LIVE: Second wave could trigger twice as many UK deaths this winter

Scientists advising the Government have forecast a grim picture, warning of 120,000 more hospital coronavirus-related deaths in a “reasonable worst-case scenario”. A new report from the Academy of Medical Sciences, commissioned by the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, urged for action to be taken now to mitigate the potential for a second peak of the invisible killer disease.

It forecasts hospitals could potentially see 120,000 COVID-19 deaths in between September and next June at the same time as battling a surge in demand due to usual winter pressures, including flu.

The report, from 37 scientists and academics, says there is a high degree of uncertainty about how the COVID-19 epidemic will evolve in the UK over the coming months, but sets out a “reasonable worst-case scenario” that would see the R rate rise to 1.7 from September.

The R refers to the number of people an infected person can be expected to pass the virus on to.

Professor Azra Ghani, chairwoman in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London – who worked on the study, said many things could push the R up to 1.7.

She said: “We are looking at what would be the worst that would happen, such as if there was a further relaxing of interventions, more contacts taking place, schools may be a factor, people going back to work and that sort of thing.

“Those things create more contacts, plus people will be indoors more and more people will want to meet up indoors.”

She said the virus was known to spread more easily indoors “and, of course, during the winter, we spend far more time indoors than we do during the summer”.

Professor Ghani added: “In addition, we’re less likely to have our windows open, doors tend to be closed to keep out the cold, and that will again enhance transmission.

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