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

Cheif Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty is advising Boris Johnson on blanket restrictions, according to former World Health Organisation director Anthony Costello, who sits on the independent SAGE panel.

But it comes after the Prime Minister insisted he is doing “everything in my power” to prevent a second national lockdown, voicing fears that the country cannot afford it.

Yet he acknowledged 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, Mr Argar told Sky News on Thursday: “It is 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.”

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.”

It comes after Mr Costello 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.”