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GBR | Oct 31, 2020

COVID-19 resurgence sends reeling England back into lockdown

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at 10 Downing Street in London. (Photo: Reuters)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a second national lockdown for England on Saturday (October 31) as the country struggles amid an upsurge in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and hospitalisations.

In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Johnson said the lockdown comes into effect on Thursday, November 5. The measures would be reviewed on Wednesday, December 2, he added, with gradually eased restrictions and a return to a tiered system for respective British regions.

Johnson, speaking at the Downing Street press conference, argued that the lockdown was necessary to prevent what he describes as a “medical and moral disaster” for the state-run National Health Service (NHS).

Drastic action will be needed to stem the tide of widespread infectivity in the UK as the country confirmed 21,915 new cases on Saturday, bringing the national tally to 1,011,660 since the pandemic began.

The crisis now boils into nightmarish proportions as the UK becomes the ninth country to record over one million COVID cases—to join the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, Argentina, Colombia, France and Spain.

Coronavirus-related deaths are also climbing in the UK, with some 46,555 killed by the infectious disease to date. Another 169,003 patients are currently hospitalised, with many facilities nationwide reaching capacity.

The UK bears the disctinction of having Europe’s biggest official death toll, and, grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day— scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

A man blows his nose while on the South Bank, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London. (Photo: Henry Nicholls for Reuters)

Prime Minister Johnson further warned Britons that Christmas may be “very different” but was hopeful, that in taking action now, families could possibly gather during the holidays.

“Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together,” he said.

In the meantime, all non-essential shops, as well as business operators in hospitality, will have to close for four weeks.

Unlike the spring lockdown, however, Johnson said that schools, colleges and universities can stay open.

The prime minister told the televised news conference that he was “truly, truly sorry” for the impact on businesses, but said the furlough system paying 80% of employee wages will be extended through November.

According to Johnson, even hospitals in England’s south-west, where cases are among the lowest, are set run out of capacity in weeks.

“Doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would get oxygen and who wouldn’t, who would live and who would die,” Johnson said.

Takeaways will be allowed to stay open as pubs, bars and restaurants close and people are being told they can only meet one person from outside their household outdoors.

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