A group of the Government’s science experts have called for a second national lockdown during the October half-term, in a bid to slow a developing second wave of coronavirus infections.
The experts, from the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-m), have suggested a two-week national lockdown, it has been reported.
It comes as the head of NHS Test and Trace denied it was "failing", and a senior minister hit out at people for "carping" about its flaws.
Baroness Dido Harding - head of NHS Test and Trace - acknowledged demand was significantly outstripping capacity.
But she said the size of the system had been based on modelling by the Government's scientific advisers, and suggested the problems were exacerbated by people without symptoms seeking tests for which they were ineligible.
Faced with criticism of the shortage of tests, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs that "instead of this endless carping", people should "celebrate the phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests of a disease that nobody knew about until earlier in the year".
New testing figures for England showed 33.3% of people who were swabbed at a regional site, local site or mobile testing unit received their result within 24 hours - despite Boris Johnson's promise that they would all be turned around within that timescale by the end of June.
Bringing in another national lockdown would be "the last line of defence", Heath Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Asked about the possibility of a two-week imposition of national restrictions to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Hancock told Sky News: "A national lockdown is the last line of defence and we want to use local action."
He added: "I want to avoid a national lockdown."
Pressed on the possibility of a national lockdown, Matt Hancock said: "It isn't something that we ever take off the table, but it isn't something that we want to see either.
"The country once again needs to come together and recognise there is a serious challenge. That the virus is accelerating.
"Unfortunately, it isn't just cases increasing, it's also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing."