Boris Johnson has suggested that coronavirus spreading “among young people” through a lack of social distancing has caused the recent surge of cases.
The Prime Minister, when asked if the Government had eased the national lockdown too early, said it was “difficult” to maintain the “discipline” of the measures.
Referring to France and Spain, Mr Johnson said a second wave of the virus began among younger age groups – adding that this was now happening in the UK.
His comments came after new confirmed daily cases of Covid-19 hit 4,322 on Friday, the highest since May 8, while scientists reported widespread growth of the virus across the country.
“If you look at what’s happened over the last few months, I think the British people have done an amazing job,” Mr Johnson told reporters during a visit to the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford.
“They got that peak under control, they brought it right down, they brought the number of infections right down by discipline and everybody adjusting our behaviours and the way we go about our lives – hands, face, space.
“And I think probably, truth to tell, what’s happened here and what alas has happened in so many other countries is that people find it difficult to keep this up.
“It is very difficult to maintain that kind of discipline for a long time and what you’ve seen is the disease starting to spread again among young people and that’s where it really started to kick off in France and Spain in those age groups and we are now seeing that here in this country.”
Mr Johnson said that an increase in cases in those aged over 80 led to the “rule of six” – which bans gatherings of more than six people – being implemented in England on Monday.
But he said that if the recent measures do not curb the spread of Covid-19, ministers will take further steps, while insisting that he did not want a second national lockdown.