British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not yet heading towards a full national lockdown in England despite calls from the opposition leader for a “circuit breaker” lockdown, Work and Pensions Minister Thérèse Coffey said on Wednesday.
“I do not believe that the prime minister wants to set off on a national lockdown, but as ever he is advised by scientists – he takes that decision,” Coffey told Sky.
Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called on Tuesday for a two to three week “circuit breaker” lockdown to save lives. Starmer said Johnson’s attempt to tackle the virus wasn’t working.
Asked if England was heading for a national lockdown in the next two weeks, Coffey said: “I don’t believe that is the case but as I say this will continue to be a decision that the prime minister will lead on.”
Coffey said the three-tier system of lockdowns announced on Monday should be given a chance to work.
But government scientific advisers said in a paper due to be published on Wednesday that a two-week full lockdown from October 24 could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100, The Times reported.
The paper by Graham Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, says that “the optimal time for a break is always now; there are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break.”
If daily deaths reach more than 200, a circuit breaker could reduce the toll for the rest of the year from 80,000 to less than 40,000, The Times said.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Estelle Shirbon)