Newspapers showed that hospitalization had already violated “reasonable worst case” levels, and a report from Sage warned that the NHS is at risk of being inundated without national interventions.

Discussions are ongoing as to whether to refer to the stricter restrictions as “Tier 4” or “Tier 3 plus”.

A senior government source said, “In Level 3, everything is up for discussion except for schools, so ‘Level 4’ is a strange concept in that sense.”

Dominic Raab, the foreign minister, said the government was “striving” to avoid sweeping restrictions nationwide, and insisted that targeted measures could slow growth in cases.

When asked about the possibility of introducing a “Level 4”, Mr. Raab, a member of the Cabinet’s Coronavirus Subcommittee, said: “We are always ready to take more measures that we can take, but I think the most important thing about additional measures is that we are continuing the path that We are targeting it for the virus. “

To date, 10.6 million people in England have been placed at Tier 3, with another 10.6 million in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Scotland living under similar or harsher measures.

The West Midlands and Tees Valley are expected to be moved to Level 3 early next week, with talks continuing between the government and local leaders in both regions.

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