A SECOND wave of coronavirus could come as temperatures drop to 4C in winter, it was warned today.
Officials now fear any increase in cases of the deadly bug would then mean a second lockdown for the UK just as the economy begins to restart.
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A senior member of The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the virus is believed to "like" 4C – possibly explaining why it spread so quickly in February and March in the UK.
And one senior official said in a stark warning to the Daily Mail: "We can get away with a lot at the moment because it is summer.
"It is really important that people get ready for the challenges that winter will undoubtedly bring."
Just one example of the bug's high rate of infection in the winter has been seen in Melbourne, Australia.
The country's second biggest city has re-entered another six weeks in lockdown after 75 new cases were reported on Monday followed by a spike of 73 on Tuesday.
Australia is currently heading into winter, with the average high temperature for Melbourne sitting at 13.5C while the average low temperature is 6C.
And a UK minister today said: "If the overall numbers increase, then I would expect to have to reimpose some national measures."
Leicester has already been put into a local lockdown after a surge in cases were recorded in two weeks.
Public Health England identified 3,216 cases since the start of the epidemic – 944 in the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, Carlisle in Cumbria has recorded a "concerning" spike in cases with public health chiefs warning "we cannot ignore this".
And authorities are cautiously watching the R rate in the UK.
Across the whole of the UK, the Covid-19 reproduction number has remained stable since last week at 0.7 to 0.9.
But the latest regional statistics released today by the Government show it has crept up to between 0.8 and 1 in England after rising in the South.
It comes almost a week after pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers were allowed to reopen.
The R rate has also risen above 1 in the South West where it is now at 0.7 to 1.1, while the South East is 0.7 to 1.0.
East Anglia and the North West have also seen similar increases in their R value ranges – from 0.7 to 0.9 last week to 0.7 to 1.0 today.
However, the value is down slightly in the Midlands – despite a local outbreak and subsequent lockdown in Leicester – from 0.8 to 1.0 last week to between 0.7 and 0.9, this week.
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