The coronavirus R number in Britain has risen – as new data shows the figure has soared above 1.3.
Data released by the Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the R-number in England is believed to be 1.4, while in Scotland and Wales it is 1.3.
R is the number of people each infected person passes the virus on to, on average, and it needs to be kept below one in order for Covid-19 to stay under control.
Last week, the estimate for R across the UK was between 1.0 and 1.2 – and before then, the last time R was above 1 was in early March, when the UK was put in a national lockdown.
It comes as Government scientists made calls for a 14-day national lockdown next month to avoid "breaking the NHS ".
A Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) scientist told the Financial Times: "As schools will be closed for one week at half-term, adding an extra week to that will have limited impact on education."
They added the country's R number was on course to “break the NHS”, and that the test-and-trace system was “creaking at the seams”.
Sage and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling reportedly recommended a second lockdown as tests showed Covid-19 positive cases were close to doubling every week in England.
The North East of England has been hit with a second lockdown this week, with officials warning seven other parts of the country could be facing similar restrictions soon.
New data shows much of Merseyside and parts of the West Midlands, Leicestershire and Cheshire are on the danger list for a fresh Covid-19 lockdown.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs he wants to avoid a second lockdown, saying "it would be completely wrong for this country".