Coronavirus is "getting out of control" and lockdown rules could last for six more months, MPs have warned.
Northern MPs received the grim warning in a briefing by England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty yesterday.
One MP told the Mirror : "He said that the current spike will be with us for six months, and measures might have to be in place for most or all of that time."
Another said: "He said we were looking at six more months of measures being necessary – not specifically these local lockdowns."
A third said: "He said we need to take a six month view. Measures will have an impact in 2 to 4 weeks but we need to look ahead."
Skills minister Gillian Keegan admitted today on BBC Question Time: "This is serious – it is getting out of control, and we have to do something to bring it back under control."
Prof Whitty has consistently warned publicly and privately that restrictions may need to last six months.
At his briefing for northern MPs yesterday, he presented data claiming more than 30% of exposure was linked to pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.
The briefing left MPs furious for being banned from asking questions about the planned lockdown itself.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to replace local lockdowns with a new "three-tier" system on Monday.
It will slap tougher curbs on areas in the worst-hit tier – expected to include Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool.
The PM faces a backbench revolt as critics say the plans were drawn up without input from local leaders.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to unveil wage support today for workers forced home in "Tier 3" lockdowns that could pay two thirds of their wages.
Labour leader Keir Starmer called for an end to the Government's "serial incompetence".
He urged Boris Johnson to "get a grip of this situation urgently before it spirals out of control".