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Health Minister Edward Argar has rejected reports that the Government is considering a two-week national lockdown.

Former World Health Organisation director Anthony Costello, who sits on the independent SAGE panel, sparked concern by suggesting that Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty was advising Boris Johnson on blanket restrictions.

The Prime Minister has insisted he is doing “everything in my power” to prevent a second national lockdown, but has acknowledged that he could not dismiss the possibility. Cases have been rising over the last month with the UK recording nearly 4,000 Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time since the start of May.

Asked about the reports that Mr Whitty was advising the Government to impose a two-week lockdown, Mr Argar told Sky News on Thursday: “It is not something I have hard about, but it’s not something I have seen within the department.

“The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. He doesn’t want to see another national lockdown.

“He wants to see people abiding by the regulations and making the local lockdowns work and getting the infections rates down.”

He added: “It’s nothing something I’ve heard from Chris and I know it’s something the Prime Minister has been clear he doesn’t want to see.”

Mr Costello had tweeted: “I’m hearing from a well-connected person that government now thinks, in absence of testing, there are 38,000 infections per day. Chris Whitty is advising PM for a two week national lockdown.”

But he later backtracked on his initial claim, saying that Mr Whitty does not support a two-week lockdown.

Meanwhile, Mr Argar said the Government believes the rise in coronavirus cases can be controlled through local measures as long as people adhere to the measures in place.

Asked about whether he could rule out another national lockdown, he told BBC Breakfast: “The key to making sure that doesn’t happen is people adhering to the rule of the six, adhering to the regulations.

“I know it’s tough. This has been an incredibly tough year for everyone with huge sacrifices made by individuals, by businesses, by families.

“And the message is very clear. If we stick to that, if we stick to the hands, space and face guidance, we can avoid further national restrictions.”

Cases have been rising over the last month (AFP via Getty Images)

With further lockdowns expected to be announced in North East England , Mr Argar said the region was seeing a spike in cases similar to that in the North West.

“In the North East we are seeing a spike in infections. It is exactly what we have seen in the North West. We monitor that rate. Where we need to, we step in and take action,” he said.

Mr Argar said that in the North West, the rise had been driven in part by people not adhering to the social distancing requirements.

“Obviously a nighttime economy will fuel that with people having been out late into the evening.”

He later said the Government believes the rise in coronavirus cases can be controlled through local measures.

“We saw in Leicester it worked, we saw those rates come right down – it does work and it does control it at a local level,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“I don’t think we are at a place where we would wish to see or need to see a national level of restrictions.”

Mr Argar said that while the Government was “ramping up” testing capacity as cases rose, it would need to prioritise key workers.

“We will see this in the next few days, the official guidance coming out that will prioritise frontline NHS care workers, teachers and similar.

“It is possible that there are people with symptoms who apply for a test who have to wait longer because we are prioritising those key frontline workers we need to keep our NHS and care system working.”