London will need to go into Tier 3 in order to stop coronavirus deaths from surging over Christmas, an expert says.
Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the capital, which was placed into Alert Level Tier 2 when England came out of lockdown last week.
Between November 26 and December 2, 15,200 Londoners tested positive for the virus according to data from Public Health England, Mirror Online reports.
That's a rate of 170 cases per 100,000 population – an alarming rise from 156 cases per 100,000 the week prior.
Professor John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for North West England and author of Blinded by Corona, is warning of the need for urgent action.
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"(The government) needs to decide in the next 48 hours whether to move London into Tier 3 otherwise they really risk a terrible situation for London, with deaths going up during the Christmas period," he told the Guardian.
"They might have to go to complete lockdown."
Professor Kevin Fenton, the London regional director for Public Health England, said he was also concerned by the figures.
"The latest data shows case rates are on the increase again in most London boroughs, including in the at-risk over 60s," he said.
"We'll need to work together to prevent a big surge in cases in London ahead of the festive period so we must all do our bit and limit the spread over the coming days and weeks."
Household mixing restrictions will be eased for five days over Christmas to allow families to mingle.
The seven-day case rate for London, which is currently in Tier 2, increased over five consecutive days, PHE said.
Some areas reached even higher than the capital's average – two in the east were nearly double that figure.
In Barking and Dagenham, the rate reached 299 per 100,000 while it was 319 in Havering.
A total of 20 of the 32 boroughs exceeded the average figure for England of 149 cases per 100,000.
This is in contrast with many areas on Tier 3 having lower rates – in Bristol it is 141 per 100,000 population and Coventry is 134.
It's thought there are not currently active talks in City Hall about changing London's tier status before an official review date of December 16.
But City Hall officials are aware it is a "rapidly moving picture".
A spokesman for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Tuesday that people in the capital must follow the rules or risk being placed into a Tier 3 lockdown.
"If we begin to act like this virus has gone away we could see a devastating further surge in cases at a time of year when our NHS is already under enough pressure," the spokesman said.
"The number-one way to look out for our loved ones and support local businesses in this festive season is to follow the rules and do all we can to avoid going back into tougher restrictions, later this month or any time in the future."
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