The Sun newspaper says it had seen modelling from Government scientists that shows more than 25,000 people will be in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November.
That is higher than the spring peak, raising doubts about the likelihood of a reprieve from curbs over the festive period.
Members of the Government’s scientific advisory body (Sage) are reportedly warning that by December, virus rates all over the country will soar past the levels seen in areas in the north already put into the ‘very high’ category.
A Government source told The Sun: ‘The latest Sage numbers are utterly bleak.’
Parts of Nottinghamshire and Warrington have been confirmed as the next places going into tier three this week.
They join Greater Manchester, Lancashire, the Liverpool City Region and South Yorkshire in the toughest level of restrictions.
Under the rules, pubs and bars must close unless they serve substantial meals, and households are banned from mixing.
The regional lockdown system has sparked a row over the North-South divide, with many northern leaders accusing the Government of forcing them into level three restrictions without an adequate financial support package in place.
Today more than 50 backbench Conservative MPs warned Boris Johnson that the coronavirus crisis is set to ‘send the North into reverse’.
The letter urged the PM to lay down a ‘clear road-map’ out of Covid-19 curbs and to develop an economic recovery scheme for the North.
But a Whitehall source told The Sun: ‘The exit path these guys want does not exist yet.’
The Government has previously said it wants families to be able to get together this Christmas.
But hopes of a return to normality have been branded ‘wishful thinking in the extreme’ by scientists.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of sage, said last week: ‘The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts.
‘The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.’
Meanwhile former Government adviser Neil Ferguson warned at the weekend that people will die of Covid-19 if households mix on Christmas day.
The UK recorded its biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths since May on Tuesday.
Another 367 coronavirus deaths and 22,885 new cases were reported today as the country continues to battle a second wave of infections.
Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.