UP to 56,000 people in London could already be infected with coronavirus without knowing.
The capital is the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and makes up a third of the infection toll across the country.
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People are being urged to "socially distance" themselves – including steering clear of pubs and restaurants – in order to stop the spread of the bug.
But pictures have shown boozed-up Brits spilling out of clubs and bars in recent days.
The number of people infected with the virus in London alone is now 1,221 – out of a total of 3,269 across the country.
Southwark, Lambeth and Westminster are the worst affected boroughs in the capital.
At least 56 of the 145 deaths in Britain have been in London.
In comparison, less than 350 people have been struck down with Covid-19 in the second worst affected region – the South East of England.
Meanwhile, a second coronavirus hotspot has emerged in the Midlands – with the Health Secretary today warning "we don't know why".
Thirty-two deaths have been recorded in Midlands hospitals – accounting for about 20 per cent of the fatalities in the UK.
Experts say that from the science so far, they believe that the expected death rate in Britain was one fatality for every 1,000 cases.
It means that there couple be as many as 56,000 Londoners who are already infected with Covid-19 without knowing.
Speaking at a Health Select Committee meeting earlier this week, the government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: "We've tried to get a handle on that in Sage (the scientific advisory group for emergencies) and if you put all the modelling information together, that's a reasonable ballpark way of looking at it.
"It's not more accurate than that."
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Asked whether he thought deaths in the UK could be kept below 20,000, Sir Patrick said: "If we can get numbers down to 20,000 and below, that's a good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get with this outbreak, but that's still horrible.
"It's still an enormous number of deaths and enormous pressure on the NHS."
Sir Patrick said stringent "social distancing" measures introduced earlier this week should "have a very significant effect on the peak" and lead to a reduction in deaths and cases within two to three weeks.
He said case isolation could bring the peak of the outbreak down by about 20 per cent, whole household quarantine by 25 per cent, and general social distancing by 50 per cent.
Meanwhile, social "shielding" of the elderly could reduce the mortality rate by 20 to 30 per cent.
"Together you should expect those to have a very significant effect on the peak and we should start to see the rates come down in two or three weeks time," he told the select committee.
But, he warned much is still unknown about what will happen when people are released from isolation and are no longer taking part in social distancing.
Sir Patrick said "that's one of the big unknowns in this which we are going to have to think about very carefully".
Around 1.4 million Brits will be told to self-isolate on Monday to stop the spread of the bug.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that those who are classed as vulnerable will be contacted with the specific action they need to take.
He told Sky News: "The first thing we're going to do is set out exactly what conditions that applies to.
"We expect about 1.4 million people to then get a communication from the NHS to say that they are part of this and what they need to do.
"Many of these people have pre-existing health conditions and so will be very worried right now, and I understand that, and they'll need very specific sets of action – for instance, how do you go about still getting your chemo if you have cancer whilst also social-distancing?
"If you have cancer it's particularly important to stay away from other people, but you also of course have got to keep going with your chemotherapy."
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He added: "These are some of the most difficult and challenging cases so we'll be getting in contact with them, but if people think that they are on this list and don't receive a communication from the NHS, then they also need to get in contact.
"So that is under way, the money was announced for it yesterday. A combination of money to the NHS and money to councils because they've got a very big part to play in keeping people safe."
It comes as an army of 65,000 retired nurses and doctors have been told “Your NHS Needs You” in the battle against coronavirus.
Medical students and trainee nurses are also being invited to join the fight — while members of the public have been asked if they can help, too.
NHS trusts have been told to provide 30,000 critical care beds as the UK death toll rose by 40 on Thursday.
The Prime Minister said he expects the tide to be turned in the fight within 12 weeks, as he urged the public to follow social distancing advice and for businesses to "stand by your employees".
Boris Johnson has told Brits he is "absolutely confident that we can send coronavirus packing in this country", and the tide can be turned within the next 12 weeks.
But he implied that this is only if the public heeds the social distancing guidance, saying: "I know it's tough, I know it's difficult… but please, please follow the advice."
And Mr Johnson said British experts expect to start trials for a vaccine against the virus within a month, although expectations are that a vaccine will take at least a year.
He also said a "game-changer" antibody test was "coming down the track" which could identify whether somebody somebody had become immune to the disease so they could return to their daily life.
The PM also pledged to massively increase testing to up to 250,000 a day, which combined with collective action and scientific progress he said would save "many, many thousands of lives".
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