ENGLAND'S chief medical officer will deliver a televised briefing this morning as experts look to "manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period".

Professor Chris Whitty is set to tell Brits that the nation's coronavirus infection rate is "heading in the wrong direction" in an announcement at 11am.

He and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance will discuss the latest Covid-19 figures and lay out "potential scenarios" which could be used to curb the spread over the next few months.

Wimbledon Times: Chris Whitty

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not attend the briefing, nor will any other members of his cabinet.

Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick will not take any question from journalists.

Prof Whitty is expected to say: “The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.

“We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”

Wimbledon Times: Credit: PA graphicsCredit: PA graphics

Boris Johnson spent the weekend with senior ministers and advisers discussing what action to take as the rise in the number of new cases showed no sign of slowing.

It is thought the Prime Minister could announce new measures in a press conference as early as Tuesday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that increased deaths from coronavirus will follow in the UK as they have in Spain and other nations.

Wimbledon Times: Grant Shapps at Hinkler Parade in Thornhill

He told Sky News: “We’re certainly at a critical moment this morning. It is clear we’re just a few weeks behind what we’re seeing elsewhere in Europe.

“You only have to look at what’s happening in France, particularly in Spain, and you can see that things have taken off there, including, I’m afraid, deaths. So it is very important that we do everything we can to bear down on this.

“It’s absolutely vital that people do (follow restrictions) because otherwise we’re going to end up back in situations we don’t want to be in.”

Wimbledon Times: Credit: PA graphicsCredit: PA graphics

Ministers are reported to be split on how far any new restrictions should go, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak said to be resisting controls which could further damage the economy.

During a series of broadcast interviews over the weekend, however, Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a second national lockdown in England, if people fail to follow the social distancing rules.

He said he feared cases could go “shooting through the roof” with more hospitalisations and more deaths.

Another 3,899 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were announced on Sunday, while a further 18 people died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 41,777.

The latest figures came after the government announced anyone in England refusing to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000 and just days after the “rule of six” – banning social gathering of more than six people – came into force.

Wimbledon Times: Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been desperate to avoid another nationwide lockdown amid concerns about the economic damage it will inflict just as activity was beginning to pick up again.

However, as of Tuesday, about 13.5 million people across the UK will be facing some form of local restrictions, including 10pm curfews for pubs and restaurants, as the authorities grapple with the disease.

Among the measures being considered by ministers is a temporary two-week “circuit break”, with tighter restrictions across England in an attempt to break the chain of transmission.

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would support any new measures but warned that a second national lockdown was becoming more likely because the Test and Trace programme was in a state of “near collapse”.