London must be placed under Tier 3 restrictions within the next 48 hours to avoid a “terrible situation” over the Christmas period, a leading expert has warned.

Public Health England revealed the number of new coronavirus cases increased more than two thirds of London’s boroughs in the week to December 3, with nine recording an infection rate of 200 cases per 100,000.

Professor John Ashton, a member of Independent Sage and a former regional director of public health for the north west, warned that London’s situation requires urgent review.

He told the Guardian: “(The government) needs to decide in the next 48 hours whether to move London into Tier 3 otherwise they really risk a terrible situation for London, with deaths going up during the Christmas period.

“They might have to go to complete lockdown.

“It would be exactly what (the government) has done throughout this [pandemic], which is to make these decisions one or two weeks too late.

“If they want people to feel that they have got some semblance of Christmas, then they are going to have to be decisive for once.”

In Tier 3 areas all bars, restaurants and indoor entertainment venues must close.

News Shopper:

Sadiq Khan has also urged Londoners to help ensure the city is not placed into tougher Covid-19 restrictions.

A spokesman for the London mayor warned there could be a "devastating" surge in cases this winter should people fail to follow the existing Tier 2 coronavirus measures.

It comes as the latest data shows that the rate of new Covid-19 cases has increased in 24 of London's 32 boroughs for the seven days leading up to December 3.

Government officials are due to review England's tiered restrictions on December 16.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said people in the capital must follow the rules or risk being placed into a Tier 3 lockdown.

"If we begin to act like this virus has gone away we could see a devastating further surge in cases at a time of year when our NHS is already under enough pressure," the spokesman said.

"The number-one way to look out for our loved ones and support local businesses in this festive season is to follow the rules and do all we can to avoid going back into tougher restrictions, later this month or any time in the future."

News Shopper:

The latest figures show that Havering in east London has the highest coronavirus rate in the capital, with 898 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 3 - the equivalent of 346 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 268.5 per 100,000 people in the seven days to November 26.

Richmond in south-west London has the lowest Covid-19 rate in the city, down from 86.9 cases per 100,000 people to 80.3 in the seven days to December 3 - with 159 new cases.

The majority of local authority areas in England (188 out of 315) have seen a fall in case rates.

The figures, for the seven days to December 3, are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government's testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).

The data has been calculated by the PA news agency, based on Public Health England data published on December 7 on the Government's coronavirus dashboard.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Tiering decisions are based on a range of criteria including how quickly case rates are going up or down, cases in the over 60s, pressure on the NHS and local circumstances.

"The Government will review the tiering allocations every 14 days and areas will move up or down the tiers based on these indicators from local areas."