UK risks new lockdown as COVID cases hit highest level since May


LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will likely have to reintroduce some national coronavirus lockdown measures as soon as possible, a leading epidemiologist said on Saturday, as new cases peaked at their highest level since early May.

A ranger and police community support officer patrol Northumberland Street amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Newcastle, Britain, September 18, 2020. REUTERS / Lee Smith

Neil Ferguson, professor of epidemiology at Imperial College London and a former government adviser, told the BBC the country faces a “perfect storm” of growing infections as people return to work and work. ‘school.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday he did not want another national lockdown but that further restrictions may be needed as the country faces an ‘inevitable’ second wave of COVID-19.

“I think some additional action will probably be needed sooner rather than later,” Ferguson said.

Ministers reportedly considered a second national lockdown on Friday, with new COVID-19 cases already at their highest level in months, hospital admissions on the rise and infection rates skyrocket in parts of the north from England and London.

“Right now we’re at about the levels of infection we were seeing in this country at the end of February, and if we leave it for another two to four weeks, we’ll be back to the levels we were seeing.” no longer in mid-March, and it will – or could – cause death, ”Ferguson said.

Government data on Saturday showed 4,422 new cases, 100 more than Friday and the highest daily total since May 8, based on positive test results.

The actual rate of infection is probably higher. Britain’s statistics agency said on Friday around 6,000 people a day in England alone likely caught the disease in the week to September 10, based on its randomized tests.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked Johnson to meet with her, as well as the leaders of the decentralized governments of Wales and Northern Ireland in the next 48 hours, to try to ensure coordinated action in different regions from the United Kingdom.

“We know from experience at the start of the year that speed and determination to act are important in the fight against COVID,” she said.


Britain has suffered the highest death toll in Europe from COVID-19, with more than 41,000 deaths on the government’s preferred measure.

The sharp rise in infections has yet to lead to a similar rise in the number of new deaths – in part because cases have been concentrated among young people – but hospital admissions are now starting to rise.

More than 10 million people in parts of north and central England are already subject to some form of lockdown restriction, such as a ban on inviting friends or family to their homes or visiting pubs and restaurants after 10 pm.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Friday that stricter lockdown measures were becoming “increasingly likely” for the British capital.

Police broke up a protest in central London on Saturday of more than 1,000 people opposed to existing lockdowns, as the event violated rules limiting public gatherings.

Ferguson served on the government’s main science advisory board until May, when he stepped down after breaking lockdown rules himself.

He said future lockdown restrictions did not need to be as tight as those introduced in March to effectively slow the spread of the disease.

Britain’s ability to test for coronavirus infections has also been strained since schools in England reopened this month, with many saying testing was not available or possible than in places hundreds of kilometers away.

“We’ve got a perfect storm right now, people – like they’ve been told to do – getting back to normal, schools reopening, flurry of cases,” Ferguson said.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Alex Richardson and Ros Russell


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