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'No doubt' there will be further wave of COVID-19 in UK, statistics chief warns

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-03-15 09:36
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A man wearing a protective face mask walks along the Golden Jubilee Bridge, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in London, Britain, March 12, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Britain's chief national statistician on Sunday said he has "no doubt" that there will be a further wave of COVID-19 infections in the autumn, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.

Professor Ian Diamond, head of the British Office for National Statistics (ONS), also said there is a lot of regional variation in terms of how many people have antibodies.

His comments came after Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said there were still risks to reopening society and Britain will experience another surge of cases at some point, potentially in late summer or through the autumn and winter.

Diamond told the BBC that people need to understand how the data is moving forward and look at the impact of the "wonderful" vaccine rollout.

"But having said that, we need also to recognize that this is a virus that isn't going to go away," he told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.

"And I have no doubt that in the autumn there will be a further wave of infections," he said.

Asked if it is too early to know how much of the fall in infections across Britain is down to the vaccine rollout, he said there are a number of moving parts such as vaccines and restrictions.

Whitty said earlier that he would "strongly advise" against any move to shorten the timetable for easing lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to the British parliament's Science and Technology Committee, Whitty said that the measures pencilled in for May 17, when indoor mixing of up to six people could be allowed, involved "significant risks".

Modelling considered by the British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has suggested that even under the most optimistic set of assumptions, at least a further 30,000 COVID-19 deaths could occur.

On Feb 22, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his long-anticipated "roadmap" exiting the lockdown. The Monday reopening of schools in England was the first part of the four-step plan, which Johnson said was designed to be "cautious but irreversible".

Other parts of Britain, including Wales and Scotland, have also unveiled plans to ease the restrictions.

Experts have warned Britain is "still not out of the woods" amid concerns over new variants and the risks of the public breaching restriction rules.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

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