A second national lockdown would likely have “dire” financial consequences for the UK, the Prime Minister said.
Appearing before a committee of MPs, Boris Johnson said the government was doing “everything in our power” to prevent another national lockdown.
That is why new restrictions – such as the “rule of six” – were needed to “beat” the disease, he said.
The PM also admitted that the testing capacity was not sufficient.
Previously, he blamed a “colossal spike” in demand for continued problems accessing tests and delayed results.
UK coronavirus cases rose by 3,991 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 378,219, according to government figures.
20 other people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19. This brings the total of UK deaths by this criterion to 41,684.
Amid rising coronavirus cases, the Commons Liaison Committee asked Mr Johnson if the UK could afford another national lockdown.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I don’t want a second national lockdown – I think that would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.
“And can we afford it? I very much doubt the financial consequences will be anything but dire, but we need to make sure we beat the disease in the ways we have defined.
“So when I see people arguing against the rule of six or saying that the government takes too much away from individual freedoms and so on – I totally understand that and I sympathize with it, but we have to, have to win. this illness. ”
From Monday, new rules went into effect, limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings in England and Scotland, and indoor groups in Wales.
Second national lockdown extremely unlikely
A second national lockdown is extremely unlikely for two reasons.
First, it is extremely damaging – to the economy, to education, and to health in general for reasons other than Covid.
One need only look at the latest figures on falling cancer referrals, hours out of school and rising unemployment to see the cost of the UK’s spring lockdown.
Second, the government and its medical advisers have a much better understanding of the virus.
Current infection and hospitalization rates remain well below what they were in the spring, and despite the problems with testing, there is quite a wealth of data on exactly where the virus is and how quickly it is spreading.
Even if things get worse, officials are confident the NHS will cope.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be other restrictions.
Banning gatherings of more than six people may be just the first step.
There is also talk of a curfew, forcing reception areas to close at 10 p.m. BST.
This tactic has been used in Belgium to curb the increase in cases and has been deployed to combat the epidemic in Bolton.
At this point, it is unlikely to be used nationally.
Instead, expect this to be an option for virus hotspots, as well as a ban on visiting other people’s homes that have been used in the North West and West Yorkshire.
The shield could, however, be reintroduced nationwide at some point, alongside a ban on visits to nursing homes, in a bid to protect the most vulnerable groups.
Mr Johnson also admitted there was not enough coronavirus testing capacity amid reports of people struggling to get tests and that results were being delayed.
He told the committee: “We don’t have enough testing capacity now because in an ideal world I would test absolutely anyone who wants a test right away. ”
He promised there would be a capacity for 500,000 tests per day by the end of October.
But he urged people without symptoms to stay away from testing centers – although he acknowledged reasons they might want to know if they have Covid-19.
“What has happened is that demand has accelerated massively in recent weeks,” he said.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said his intention to put the NHS at the top of the list for coronavirus testing would be published in the coming days.
People in nursing homes would also be a priority, while schools could be considered, Buckland said.
Resolving delays with testing was “the number one problem,” he added.
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