Boris Johnson is reported to be planning to plunge England into a full lockdown lasting until December.
They came to the conclusion that more severe restrictions of freedoms are necessary due to the demand being placed on hospitals by rising Covid-19 cases, according to reports.
Mr Johnson is then said to have come to a reluctant conclusion that a full national lockdown for England until December was necessary.
No final decisions are said to have been made but Mr Johnson will address the nation early next week about the next steps of the battle against coronavirus, according to the reports.
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Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, told ministers on Thursday morning that the virus is “out of control”.
It is likely that everything but essential shops, nurseries, universities and schools will be shut.
The PM is expected to hold a press conference on the matter on Monday.
“The data is really bad,” a source told The Times.
“We are seeing coronavirus rising all over the country and hospitals are really struggling to cope.”
Government ministers were shown data suggesting that NHS beds would be overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients.
In mid October when Labour leader Keir Starmer called for a circuit breaker national lockdown a senior government source said: “Keir Starmer is a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Now Sage experts believe the looming lockdown will have to last longer than two weeks to have the desired effect to protect the NHS and save lives.
The news comes at the end of a week in which coronavirus deaths in the UK have risen to levels last seen in May.
Today the Covid-19 death toll shot up by 274, while infections increased by more than 24,000.
This is the biggest Friday jump in deaths since May 29, when 274 fatalities were also recorded.
Government scientists now believe it is inevitable the whole country will end up in lockdown if we are to avoid 800 deaths a day from coronavirus.
Earlier today it was reported that the Sage panel of experts is pushing Boris Johnson to U-turn again and call a national circuit break.
They are now convinced that without drastic action every region will eventually end up with at least Tier 3 restrictions anyway.
Sources say is not too late to “save Christmas” but a national lockdown longer than the originally suggested two-week circuit break is required.
Ministers continued to defend the use of local restrictions amid speculation they are considering a more restrictive Tier 4 category.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are battling a second wave, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring those numbers back down.”
In a truly grim summary of how bad the coronavirus situation has got in the UK, official papers revealed today that the coronavirus second wave is now almost certainly worse than the government’s “worst-case scenario”.
Government advisors said two weeks ago that England was outpacing even the grimmest plans they laid back in July.
And a senior scientist today confirmed “the trajectory at the moment is breaching it,” but “if action is taken, then you can reverse this”.
The UK worst-case scenario held by the Cabinet Office, which was leaked this week, was based on a staggering 85,000 deaths happening between summer 2020 and March 2021.
It modelled cases and deaths rising throughout winter, from a fairly low level in October and November to a peak of 800 Covid-19 deaths a day by early Spring.
And it was based on there being more than 500 deaths a day for “at least” 90 days.
Today’s documents show that by October 14, England’s number of new cases and hospital admissions each day had risen above what the worst-case scenario predicted for that point in winter.
Infections had also risen above the worst-case scenario by October 14.
The Office for National Statistics infection survey found cases “continued to rise steeply” in the week ending October 23, with an estimated 568,100 people in households becoming infected.
The new ONS figures, based on 609,777 swab tests taken whether people have symptoms or not, show the highest rates are in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
A national lockdown across England would replace the current three Tier system that is in place.
Just this evening it was announced that Carlisle is heading into Tier 2 lockdown measures, with restrictions coming into force in just a few hours at midnight.
Residents of Carlisle and its surrounding areas will no longer be allowed to meet people from another household indoors or gather in a group of more than six outside.