We have entered a crucial phase in the epidemic.

Cases are increasing across the whole of the country and the number of people in hospital is now higher than before the full lockdown.

It is at this critical moment that the gulf between the official scientific advice and the political decisions made by government has been laid bare.

Documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) reveal a call to action three weeks ago.

“The re-imposition of a package of measures is required urgently,” it warned on 21 September.

It added: “The more rapidly these interventions are put in place the greater the reduction in Covid-related deaths and the quicker they can be eased.

“Not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences.”