The novel coronavirus pandemic will kill some 250,000 people in the UK unless more draconian measures were adopted by the government, including putting the whole country under lockdown, scientists have warned.
The Imperial College COVID-19 response team, which has been advising ministers, said that even with the "social distancing" plans set out by the government, the health system will be "overwhelmed many times over", the Metro newspaper reported on Tuesday.
In its latest report, the team said such measures would need to be maintained potentially for 18 months or more until an effective vaccine became available.
The report warned that even with such a dramatic closing down of normal life, the capacity of health systems in the UK was likely to be "exceeded many times over".
"Even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in Great Britain."
The report said there was no alternative but to move to a policy of total "suppression" involving the social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of family members.
Even then, it said it was "not at all certain" that the strategy would succeed in the long term.
"The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound," the Metro newspaper quoted the report as saying.