An infectious disease expert has claimed the UK is in need of a January national lockdown to prevent a "catastrophe" at the start of 2021.
Andrew Hayward, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, warned the UK is at risk of entering "dangerous new phase of the pandemic."
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the country will need "decisive, early, national action" to prevent a "catastrophe" in January and February.
The scientist, who is also a professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, said the increase in transmissibility means "previous levels of restrictions won't work now."
Mr Hayward said: "I think we are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic and we’re going to need decisive, early, national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February.
"A 50% increase in transmissibility means that the previous levels of restrictions that worked before won’t work now."
He added that Tier 4 restrictions are "likely" and even suggested even higher protocols than those seen in the UK in March could be necessary.
The scholar said: "Tier 4 restrictions are likely to be necessary or even higher than that.
"I think we’re really looking at a situation where we’re moving into near lockdown, but we’ve got to learn the lessons from the first lockdown."
Mr Hayward's suggestions come after the Government put much of the south of England in strict Tier 4 restrictions just days before Christmas.
What 'Tier 5' lockdown restrictions could be as officials warn current system not enough
Boris Johnson then implemented an extension of these measures to other parts of the UK on Boxing Day and put them into a Tier 3 and Tier 2 hold.
The Government has faced criticism for the month-long November circuit-breaker lockdown, which saw pubs and non-essential retail close but schools and food shops stay open.
Rumours of a Tier 5 lockdown – of which there is no evidence to suggest – surfaced on social media as news spread of a second new Covid variant.
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