UK health minister says Covid cases may hit 100,000 a day in winter, no contingency measures for now

Officials from the World Health Organization on Wednesday noted the rise in cases across Europe, including in the U.K., blaming it at least in part on the easing of Covid restrictions.

“The Northern hemisphere is heading into another winter, and just need to be a little concerned about that uptick across Europe as we enter the late, late, deep autumn,” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s head of emergencies programs, said in a QA. “As societies are opening up, we’re seeing those numbers rise, and in a number of countries, we’re already seeing the health system begin to come under pressure, we’re seeing the number of available ICU beds decreasing.”

Last month, the government outlined its fall-winter plan for tackling the coronavirus crisis, setting out a series of measures designed to avert the need for more lockdowns. These include vaccine uptake, test, trace and isolate, supporting the NHS and social care, government guidance and communication, and embracing an international approach to the pandemic.

If the NHS was deemed to be at risk of coming under unsustainable pressure, Javid said those contingency measures could kick in across England. That includes the possibility of making masks mandatory in certain settings, vaccine passports for events and encouraging remote working.

Health and care policy is devolved across the U.K., with different provisions made in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.