Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has warned of a “potentially problematic” Christmas due to COVID-19 and said he believes there will be “tough months ahead”.
England deputy chief physician said the UK is on “break in extra time” in the tackle coronavirus.
“I think the final whistle in relation to – I can not predict it – but my personal position is that we have a few more months to run and I think we will be in a much calmer water by spring he told BBC Breakfast.
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Prof Van-Tam said that too many people think the pandemic is now over.
“I personally feel that there are some tough months ahead in the winter and it is not over,” he said.
Asked how a Christmas shutdown could be prevented, he said: “Christmas, and indeed all the darker winter months, will be potentially problematic.”
He said the things that are “really going to determine this” are the success of vaccination programs and how cautious people are, especially in the next few months.
“I think a whole range of behaviors, including the use of face clothing, but generally the caution that people take or do not take in terms of interacting with each other – it will be a big determinant of what happens between now and that kind of darkest winter months, “he said.
He said it was crucial for people to accept offers of booster and flu jabs.
Prof Van-Tam said infection rates are still very high at the moment – higher than in most of Europe.
“It is worrying for researchers that we are driving so hot so early in the fall season,” he added.
While acknowledging that hospitalizations have flattened out over the past four days, he said he was concerned that deaths were rising and that there were signs that infections were beginning to “penetrate” older age groups.
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asked about Sir Jeremy Farrar’s resignation from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), he said: “I think it is very clear that he felt that much of the information that the government needs from scientists has now been provided and he recognized the need that he had to really refocus on his work at the Wellcome Trust. “
As for masks, Prof. Van-Tam said they are beneficial “but they are probably most useful when used in combination with other things”.
He said he did not believe people should wear face masks while sitting in indoor environments involving food or drink, but advised them to enter, leave and move around venues.
He said in cinemas and theaters “you do not interact with anyone in there other than the audience or the actors on the screen, you do not interact with the audience, you sit quite close together and for most people there should be relatively few personal costs associated with wearing a face mask. in that kind of environment. “
He said it would be “very socially inhibiting” to wear masks in clubs, adding: “I think if the epidemiology gets worse in the UK, that in itself would not be enough in that kind of venue.”