A HEALTH expert has discussed the possibility of tougher coronavirus restrictions being introduced in England to curb the continued spread of the disease.

Chief medical Officer Chris Whitty said the next few weeks will be "the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS".

He explained that it would be several weeks before vaccines took effect and action was needed to stem the rising infection rate in the meantime.

In an appearance on BBC Breakfast this morning, host Dan Walker quizzed Mr Whitty on whether the government was considering heightened lockdown measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Brentwood Live: England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty at a Downing Street press conferenceEngland's chief medical officer Chris Whitty at a Downing Street press conference

This comes after national newspapers reported that the government had considered new measures such as limits on exercise, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and a ban on social bubbles over the weekend.

Mr Whitty said: "I think ministers are always looking at whether they should adjust restrictions and, at this moment, definitely not relaxing them.

"But the most important thing is that people take the current rules very, very seriously."I think that is the most important thing now, for people to actually say, 'Look, these are the rules, they are really clear and we shouldn't do anything which is outside them'.

"Even within them we should be doing our level best to minimise the amount of unnecessary contacts with people who are not from our household.

Brentwood Live: National newspapers reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with ministers over the weekend to discuss the possibility of tougher coronavirus lockdown restrictionsNational newspapers reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with ministers over the weekend to discuss the possibility of tougher coronavirus lockdown restrictions

"I can't emphasise that enough. When you think about the pressures there are on the NHS at the moment, that is something we can all do to help relieve the pressures over the next few weeks."

But he said any new restrictions which might be put in place would be "very much down to government ministers".

Mr Whitty went on to explain how the new, more transmissible strain of Covid-19 was spreading across England, and the immense pressure this was placing on the nation's health services.

He said: "The peak we had back in April last year, we had about 18,000 people in the NHS.

"We currently, as of yesterday, have over 30,000 people in the NHS.

"A week ago, all four chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said, 'This is going to be a significant crisis for the NHS unless we take evasive action'.

"And this new variant is really pushing things in a way which the old variant, which was already very bad, was not able to.

Brentwood Live: Chief medical officer has advised and appeared alongside Boris Johnson throughout the pandemicChief medical officer has advised and appeared alongside Boris Johnson throughout the pandemic

"So we have a very significant problem.

"Here in London, for example, one in 30 people currently have this coronavirus, according to the Office For National Statistics.

"Across the country as a whole, it's one in 50.

"So this is a serious problem and it's rising in every part of England."

To counter this, he urged people to follow existing lockdown rules.

Mr Whitty said: "We need to really double down, this is everybody's problem.

"Any single unneccessary contact you have with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission which will lead to a vulnerable person.

"So we have all got to, as individuals, help the NHS and help our fellow citizens by minimising the amount of unneccessary contacts we have."

He said the "virus can be passed on in any place where people from two different households meet together" and was often passed on when people invited others into their homes.