The UK can expect coronavirus "peaks around Christmas", according to a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

Professor John Edmunds, one of the UK's top scientists, has warned that the second wave of cases could bring tens of thousands of deaths in what is a “bleak” situation.

Prof Edmunds warned MPs that immediate action is needed to stem the rising tide of Covid-19 cases - and not just regionally.

When asked his opinion on current levels of cases, deaths and pressure on the NHS he replied the situation was “quite gloomy”.

He said: “I think if you look at where we are, there’s no way we come out of this wave now without counting our deaths in the tens of thousands.”

He told the Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees: “We’ll see peaks around Christmas, in the new year of very severe numbers of cases throughout the UK.

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He clarified that the UK as a whole would likely not reach the peak experienced in March and April, however stressed some parts of the country were already there.

He added: “So I think we are looking at quite a bleak situation unless we take action, and we have to take action.

“I don’t think we should be taking action just specifically in the highest risk areas, but I think we need to take action everywhere else to stop them getting into that kind of rather perilous position.”

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Previously, Professor Jeremy Farrar, a fellow member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the UK as a whole faced a “very, very difficult” period over the next three to six months - warning that Christmas would be "tough" with traditional family celebrations unlikely.

But the Wellcome Trust director added there is “light at the end of the tunnel”, as he believes a Covid-19 vaccine and effective treatment will be ready in the first quarter of 2021.