The Boris Johnson government is considering imposing another nationwide lockdown after the UK reported a fresh surge of Covid-19 cases – 4,322 coronavirus infections were recorded on Friday – with experts and ministers huddled in meetings over the weekend amid growing ire over steps taken to stop the spread the virus.
Johnson admitted major challenges in providing tests and saw a second wave coming after similar spikes in cases were reported in other European countries as well. Experts want more stringent measures in place sooner than later.
Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, whose modelling had influenced the decision to impose the first lockdown earlier this year, said on Saturday the UK is now facing a “perfect storm” due to the easing of some of the curbs in recent months, and called for quick action.
Day-rise figures have been in the thousands in September after similar figures in the hundreds in July and August. There are local restrictions in north England and the Midlands, where the increase in infections is alarmingly prominent. From Monday, gatherings on more than six people have been banned.
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Speaking during a visit to Oxfordshire, Prime Minister Johnson said, “We are now seeing a second wave coming in. We’ve seen it in France, in Spain, across Europe. It’s been absolutely inevitable, I’m afraid, that we would see it in this country.
“We want to keep the schools open – that’s going to happen. And we’ll try and keep all parts of the economy open, as far as we possibly can. I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown.”
The UK PM said, “Clearly, when you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we brought in on Monday. We’ll be looking at the local lockdowns we’ve got in large parts of the country now and see what we can do to intensify things.”
New measures that could mean another lockdown are due to be announced on Monday or Tuesday, after the opposition Labour joined experts to call for swift action to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said, “I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in coronavirus cases and the difficulties people across the country are facing in getting a test… This is the time for swift, decisive national action. We cannot afford to be too slow.”