SAGE's gloomy Christmas warning: Covid-19 cases could 'easily double'

SAGE’s gloomy Xmas warning: Covid cases could ‘easily DOUBLE’ over a few days if restrictions are eased between December 23 and 27, advisers warn as they say family gatherings could spark outbreaks like September’s school term did

  • SPI-M-O group warned of massive surges in infections as a result of Christmas
  • This would be because people will mix with those they would not normally see
  • Britons will be able to meet with others from up to three different households 

SAGE advisers have predicted Covid-19 cases could ‘easily double’ during the five-day Christmas break in draconian restrictions.

The SPI-M-O group – which advises the top scientists – warned last week that any gap in measures would lead to a jump in infections as people ‘go back to their “routine” networks’ after mixing with family over the festive period.

Britons from up to three different households will be allowed to mix indoors and stay overnight with each other between December 23 and 27.

But many scientists have warned this is likely to lead to an uptick in infections as close contact with those who are asymptomatic or in the early stages of infection leads to its spread.

They have pointed to the flu bump – which normally happens every year after people mix over the Christmas break.

It comes as a Government graph published today reveals how areas have been allocated to their tiers – by comparing infection rates for the last two weeks – suggesting when it may be possible to shift down the measures.

The Department of Health today announced the new lockdown tiers that England will be divided into when the national lockdown ends on December 2

The graphs, published by Public Health England, reveal areas need infection rates below 100 cases per 100,000 people for at least two weeks before they will be considered for Tier One – the least restrictive measure.

The R rate was also found to have dropped below one today, as the lockdown puts substantial curbs on people’s movements in the country.

The notes on the Christmas relaxation in measures were published today by the Department of Health, but are dated November 18.

 They read: ‘Substantial mixing of people over a short period of time, especially those who do not make contact regularly during a month, represents a significant risk for wide-spread transmission.

‘Other respiratory infections suggest that exposure of elder family members to respiratory disease is increased during a normal festive period.

‘The prevalence could easily double during a few days of festive season, with further increases as new infections go back to their “routine” networks.’

The Government is considering imposing a 25-day lockdown after Christmas, giving five days of restrictions for every one day of relaxation to head off any further rise.

A senior Government source said this was ‘not an exact figure’ and that the five-day restrictions would only be needed if the Reproduction Rate or R – the number of people an infected person passes the virus to – rises to two.

‘If R rose to 1.5 it would be about two to three days of restrictive measures to reverse,’ they said.

‘For comparison, R is believed to be one nationally. Christmas will be a spreading event.’ 

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