Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) are urging the government to adopt a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown over half term to save thousands of lives.

The Times reports a full lockdown from October 24, with stay-at-home orders and school closures, could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100.

Hospital admissions could be reduced from 132,400 to 66,500.

A limited lockdown, with schools and shops open but hospitality venues closed, could cut deaths to 15,600, according to the papers.

Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs it would not be right to impose the restrictions on areas where cases were still low.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland has become the first region in the UK to impose a circuit-breaker lockdown, after ministers agreed to close pubs and restaurants for four weeks and schools for two weeks.

The closure of hospitality venues is expected to come into force on Friday October 16, while other measures will be rolled out on Monday October 19.

Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, ruled out the move, telling LBC: ”Parliament has only just voted last night for this national approach of the three tiers with much stronger local measures where they are needed.

”And we need to take communities with us right across the country in having some of the national measures, but frankly the Labour Party was saying 19 out of 20 areas in these lockdowns haven’t made any difference, now they want to see a national lockdown.

”I don’t think it is the right approach. Right now we need to allow this chance for the localised interventions to really have an effect so that together we can be focused on saving lives and livelihoods.”

The Sage paper reports “the optimal time for a break is always now; there are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break”, although they add that it could also be applied during the Christmas holidays or spring half-term.

If daily deaths reach more than 200, a circuit-breaker could reduce the toll for the rest of the year from 80,000 to less than 40,000.

“Such breaks are not in themselves long-term solutions, but may allow other methods that work best with low numbers of cases (such as test-trace-and-isolate) to reassert control,” Professors Medley and Keeling write. “Planned precautionary breaks could be highly effective short-term control measures [leading to] a reduction in infection, hospitalisations and deaths.”

Earlier this week, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls told MCA’s The Conversation that the three-tier system would replace proposals for a circuit breaker.

“I think this is in place of a complete circuit breaker, from what they were talking about. But clearly if we carry on and these measures don’t have any effect and infection levels keep going up and up, then the government will look for ever more extreme measures.

“As far as I understand it, the threat of a two-week complete lockdown over half term has dissipated, although that will very much depend on how the government frames the messaging and the talks that they have around minimising unnecessary travel. If they if they handle it badly, and God we’ve seen them handle it really badly over the last week, there’s a very real danger that consumers will say, catch a cold, and do what they did on the 16th of March and vote with their feet. So you might not have it legally but you might have it by default.”