The UK is entering a “period of particular concern” as the number of coronavirus cases rise across the country, the housing secretary says.
Robert Jenrick said “we all have to be very cautious” after 2,948 new UK cases were recorded on Monday.
The government’s scientific advisers have given stark warnings over the increase in Covid-19 cases.
Among those, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van Tam, said the rise was of “great concern”.
Ministers have singled out young people in particular for not following social-distancing rules.
But one expert cited the government’s “confused messaging” and said it was unfair to blame the young.
On Sunday 2,988 new cases were announced, which was the highest figure since 22 May.
At the peak of the virus in spring official figures showed there were 6,000 cases a day, although testing was largely only taking place in hospitals.
Estimates suggest there were around 100,000 cases a day at that point.
Mr Jenrick told BBC Breakfast: “The virus is still very much with us, it’s still concerning.”
He said if people followed the government’s guidance “we should be able to continue to control the virus but we’re going to have to be especially cautious as we go into the autumn and winter”.
“If we all play our own part then we should be able to maintain our daily lives in this sort of new normal but we’ve got to be very cautious because, as you’ve seen, the number of cases is rising.”
Mr Jenrick added there was a particular responsibility on younger people to follow government guidelines on Covid-19, so that infection rates would not spike again.
“We have to keep hammering the message home. Of course the people in those age categories are unlikely to become extremely unwell as a result of having the virus.
“But they are able to pass it on to others,” he said.
“There’s a responsibility on younger people to not just stay at home, obviously to go out and go to work and to enjoy pubs and restaurants, but to do so in accordance with the guidelines.”
His comments follow Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s warning that the UK could see a second spike in coronavirus cases if young people do not follow the rules.
“Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on,” he told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat on Monday.
However, Prof Susan Michie, a behavioural expert on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) was critical of the government’s “confused messaging” over the coronavirus restrictions.
She told the BBC News Channel that the constant changing of the guidance and variations between nations had left young people “very confused about what it is they are and aren’t meant to be doing”.
She said ministers had almost signalled “go out and about as usual” to young people by lifting restrictions and added it was unfair to then say “actually you are the problem” rather than take any responsibility as a government for the messaging.