London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged the government to “act before it’s too late” and implement stricter measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

It came as new data from NHS England showed the number of hospital beds in England occupied by confirmed coronavirus patients has more than doubled in two weeks from 4,105 on October 13 to 8,595 on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “We know that when it comes to this virus acting early and decisively is best, both for public health, but also for the economy.

“The more we delay in implementing measures, the more stringent they need to be and the longer they have to be in place.

“The Mayor is clear that with cases, hospitalisations and deaths rising across the country since August, the Government should have listened to the advice of SAGE and introduced a short circuit breaker.

“The failure to provide a fit for purpose test and trace system or adequate financial support for workers has led to the need for these tougher restrictions.

“Ministers must act before it’s too late and the country is plunged into a deeper health crisis with a longer lockdown needed.

Wimbledon Times:

Jane Barlow/PA Wire

“This would be worst possible outcome both for public health and our economy.”

But ministers have continued to defend the use of regional measures to tackle rising coronavirus cases in England despite mounting pressure to call a national lockdown.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government is "striving" to avoid issuing blanket restrictions nationwide as he insisted targeted measures could slow the growth in cases.

One in five people in England will be living under the toughest coronavirus restrictions from Monday when West Yorkshire moves into Tier 3, while 58% of the population will be living under either Tier 2 or 3 measures.

Asked whether ministers had been given a "very, very bleak" presentation by scientists on Thursday about rising cases and the future death toll, Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are very careful to protect the integrity of the discussions and the information we have, but we do think the situation is serious.

Wimbledon Times:

"Having said that, we're confident we've got the right measures and framework in place - which is not to have a blanket approach - with the target measures, both (in terms of) restrictions but also financial support on the areas where the uptick is the highest.

"We have seen, since we adopted that approach, a decrease in the rate of growth, but clearly there is still an uptick in the virus. We are battling a second wave, and we're going to do everything we can, in a targeted and focused way, to repress and bring those numbers back down."

Asked about the potential for introducing a Tier 4 higher level of restrictions, Mr Raab said introducing further measures is an option.

"We're always ready for further measures that we can take, but I think the most important thing about further measures is that we continue on the track that we're on of targeting the virus," he said.

"The difference between now and the first lockdown is we're in a much better place to really focus on where the virus is the greatest and I think that's right, not only in scientific and virus management terms, but I think in terms of the way people feel about tackling this virus.

Wimbledon Times:

"It's fair that it fits the natural justice that we're focusing on the areas where the uptick is the greatest, and we're not taking a one-size-fits-all approach or a blanket approach or a blunt approach, so we'll continue down that path."

On September 21, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the Government, said a series of measures should be considered for "immediate introduction", including a nationwide circuit-breaker and a ban on contact indoors with other households unless as part of a support bubble.

Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast the public would find it "desperately unfair" to face a national lockdown while rates vary across the country.

"I think in areas where the virus is not picking up, I think people would feel it was not only counterproductive or ineffective but desperately unfair for measures to be imposed across the board," he said.