BORIS Johnson warns that only tough love will flatten a second camel-like hump on Britain’s coronavirus graph and save Christmas.
The Prime Minister gave his stark message as he told Sun readers that further curfew measures, such as shutting pubs early, will be needed if his “rule of six” is not obeyed.
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He says more deaths are coming and an “awful lot of people” could still die of Covid-19 if it is allowed to “rip” through the country again.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun in his study at 10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson argued that social restrictions and a dramatic increase in testing is the only option at the moment to avoid a return to total shutdown.
And after a week of testing chaos, he has pledged to dramatically hike capacity to half a million tests every day by the end of October.
Back in March, Mr Johnson compared the Covid cases graph to a sombrero hat — urging Britain to “squash it” by lockdown.
Now he warns that the graph is starting to look like a camel’s back, so it’s time to act again.
And if a second hump can be “stopped in its tracks” he will loosen the “rule of six” — which The Sun reported last Thursday — so families can enjoy Christmas together.
The PM said: “All this is to say that: Christmas we want to protect, and we want everyone to have a fantastic Christmas.
“But the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now. So if we can grip it now, stop the surge, arrest the spike, stop the second hump of the dromedary, flatten the second hump.
“Dromedary or camel? I can’t remember if it is a dromedary or a camel that has two humps? Umm. Please check.
“Anyway a double hump. So that is what we need to do!”
Defending the restriction that means only six people can meet up socially, he said: “I know that a lot of people feel that it’s excessive and heavy-handed . . . but unfortunately the disease has not gone away.
“There are places in Europe which I will not name, such is my reputation for diplomacy, where we’ve come down one hump of the camel and we are approaching the next.”
And he warned that a recent surge in cases to more than 3,000 a day will lead to a rise in the death rate. He said: “I’m afraid infections do feed through to mortality and that is a fact we have to deal with.”
However, as well as protecting the nation’s health, Mr Johnson is at pains to protect the green shoots of economic recovery.
He said: “The crucial thing now is that I do not wish to go into some great lockdown again that stops business from functioning.”
Asked directly about a curfew on pubs and restaurants, Mr Johnson insisted: “I don’t think we are yet in that position but look around the world at what other countries are doing. What I don’t want to be doing is locking down sections of the economy.”
But he warned: “I remember when the pubs used to close at 11 anyway in the old days.
“That sort of thing, we will be looking at it.”
He urged Brits to do their part to help avoid that fate, saying: “We don’t want to go there. We want this package to work.
“We are urging people to be cautious. We want people to be disciplined to get the R down.”
In a rallying cry to help Britain bounce back, Mr Johnson urged Sun readers to be careful to suppress the resurgent virus — but do so in a way that can crucially keep the battered British economy alive.
He told Brits they must get back to work to help the economy, but take a hit socially to keep the virus under control, adding: “You’ve got to be both confident and cautious. You’ve got to do both.”
With the end of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme in sight, the PM insisted: “An ounce of confidence is worth a ton of Rishi’s banknotes, it really is.
“And people have every reason to be confident. This country will come through very strongly.
“You are seeing a big bounce back already . . . but we’ve just got to do it in a way that is Covid secure.”
Addressing this week’s testing chaos, Mr Johnson said: “I really sympathise for those that can’t get the test that they want.
“I’m afraid at the moment the system is really struggling with the real weight of demand.”
But he said some were getting tests unnecessarily.
He added: “Often, and I don’t in anyway reproach people for doing this, but its a fact, a significant proportion of those people are asymptomatic.”
But he vowed to fix it in the coming weeks saying: “We will continue to ramp it up.”
In the short term “a hierarchy of need, a priority list for those that need tests” will be unveiled to give first dibs on tests to “nurses, care home workers and teachers.”
The PM was seriously struck down by Covid-19 earlier this year before celebrating the birth of baby son Wilfred with fiancee Carrie Symonds.
Today he told senior MPs on the Liaison Committee it was vital to avoid a “disastrous” second national lockdown and “we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it”.
He said: “I very much doubt that the financial consequences would be anything but disastrous, but we have to make sure that we defeat the disease by the means that we have set out.
“So when I see people arguing against the rule of six or saying that the Government is coming in too hard on individual liberties and so on — I totally understand that and I sympathise with that, but we must, must defeat this disease.”
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