Britain scrambles to avoid second lockdown

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“It seems ironic,” said Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, “that after encouraging mass attendance at pubs, cafes and restaurants via Eat Out to Help Out, we are now considering restrict or close these. declining activities. “

The latest signs of the resurgence of the virus across Britain have left the government with little choice. The R-number, a measure of the number of people infected on average by a single patient, fell from 1.1 to 1.4, the government said on Friday, meaning that on average, every 10 people infected will transmit the virus to between 11 and 14 other people. . Any number above 1 is a worrying indication that the epidemic is growing.

In the week ending September 10, there were around 6,000 new cases of coronavirus every day outside hospitals and nursing homes in England, the government’s official statistical authority estimated, nearly doubling new infections compared to the previous week.

“We need to learn the lessons of spring,” said Susan Michie, director of the Center for Behavior Change at University College London and a member of a government advisory group, on Twitter. The daily delay in implementing “measures to restrict transmission when it increases exponentially will be costly in terms of health and life in the short term and in the long term”.

Mr Johnson is considering what the BBC has described as two weeks of closures or limited hours for restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses. Scientists said the goal appeared to be to slow, but not stop, the transmission of the virus by limiting risky and non-essential activities, like eating out.

Some government scientists, however, are urging Mr Johnson to go further by imposing something closer to a full national lockdown, including school closures, for two weeks in October, according to media reports. By implementing the closures around the October school holidays, scientists hope to limit the disruption of a school year that just opened in early September.

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