FREEDOM Day on July 19 will spark an uncontrolled peak of coronavirus as a "miserable winter" could threaten fresh lockdowns, one expert has warned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed restrictions will be lifted on Monday, but urged Brits to go forward cautiously.
The PM was last night backed by his scientific advisers, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, who all stated that there was "no right time" to unlock the country.
Prof Whitty warned of an "exit wave" and this morning, one expert has saidthat this could put even more pressure on the NHS.
Sage member Professor Graham Medley said the summer peak of coronavirus could last six weeks and heap a "considerable burden" on the NHS.
"We've never seen a peak before that hasn't been controlled.
"The intention is not to introduce a lockdown for this peak. Then we are going to see a natural peak and that may well be long and disseminated", he told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.
He added: "So even if we don't get up to very high numbers, the numbers that we get up to might last for several weeks, six weeks or so, in which case there's still a considerable burden on healthcare.
"So, although we might not get over 2,000 admissions a day, if that lasts six weeks then that's a lot of people."
Data currently states that deaths from Covid remain stable in the UK, but that infections are still climbing and are now above 30,000 a day.
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The latest health stats show that there were 34,471 new Covid cases yesterday, bumping up the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic to 5,155,243.
This is a jump from the previous Monday, when 27,334 cases were reported.
There have been 228,189 infections over the past seven days, a rise of 28.1 per cent.
Prof Medley added that more daily hospital admissions are expected as restrictions are lifted.
He explained: "It's likely that we will get between 1-2,000 hospitalisations a day."
As restrictions are eased the PM said the government hoped people would take responsibility for their own decisions when it comes to mixing and mask wearing.
Masks have been mandatory on public transport and on shops since last year but they will no longer be a requirment.
Prof Medley said he would continue to wear a mask to protect other people.
He added: "I think it's quite a reasonable thing to do; it doesn't have a huge imposition in terms of economic impact or in terms of freedom, and I think there is evidence to suggest it does good, but only if everybody does it.
"So I think that, without the mandation, then we end up with a situation where even if the majority of people, let's say 70% of people wear a mask, will that actually do any good because of the 30% who don't? I think that is something which still needs to be determined and discussed.
"I understand the Government's reluctance to actually mandate it. On the other hand, if it's not mandated it probably won't do any good."
One expert today said that easing restrictions in the UK now could be "devastating".
David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation's special envoy on Covid, said "the virus is troubling and dangerous".
Dr Nabarro said: "The pandemic is advancing ferociously around the world and I don't think that we have anywhere near got through the worst of it."
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