A NATIONAL 'circuit-breaker' lockdown isn't needed – and it'd be unfair to drag the whole country into a tier three lockdown, one of the UK's top medics said today.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam made the claims during a fiery Downing Street press briefing this evening.

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It comes after Boris Johnson repeatedly battled off pressure from across the political spectrum for another national shutdown – and on the day Manchester was forced into tier three measures.

Asked about the prospect of a potential "fire-break", the academic replied: "I wouldn't expect the same magnitude of effect as if it were done as early as September or mid-September.

"The epidemiology is so varied across the country that I think it would be difficult to justify for some areas."

However, he acknowledged that the virus is surging across the country.

"Pretty much everywhere in England is now heating up to some extent, and we are trying to walk a very fine line between getting the virus under control in areas where it's out of control, and incurring the minimum amount of economic damage in doing so," he said.

"In the areas where it is out of control, hard measures are needed.

"But do I think right now it is appropriate to insist on similar hard measures in, for example, south-west England or Kent, where levels of disease are really very, very much lower than in the North of England?


"No, I don't think that's right and I don't think that's consistent with epidemiological picture we're seeing, or indeed consistent with the pressures that are being seen in different parts of the health service across the country."

He revealed a series of heat maps, which show that cases of the virus are surging in almost every age group – and called the figures "pretty stark".

Worst affected is the north-east and north-west, as well as the East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber.

"The North is running ahead of the rest of the country at the moment," he said.

Stephen Powis of Public Health England said: "There is variation around the country and indeed that is reflected in the number of patients seen in hospitals."

And he highlighted how serious the situation in the North has become.

"There are more patients in hospitals in Greater Manchester alone at the moment than there are in hospitals in the entire south east and south west of England," he said.

During the same press conference, Mr Johnson faced a public question about a circuit-breaker.

He said that while nothing has yet been ruled out, "the distribution of the virus is very uneven compared with March and April", and reaffirmed his commitment to local measures.

"The right response is to go for this local and regional approach," he said.

The number of UK coronavirus deaths today jumped by 241 in the deadliest day since June 5.

The grim spike is almost double the 143 Covid fatalities recorded on the same day a week ago.

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