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Business News/ News / World/  UK PM Boris Johnson pressured on fresh lockdown as Covid-19 at ‘critical stage'
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UK PM Boris Johnson pressured on fresh lockdown as Covid-19 at ‘critical stage'

The policy response to coronavirus in England isn’t succeeding in controlling the disease’s spread, scientists said
  • Infections are doubling every nine days and an estimated 960,000 people are carrying the virus in England on any one day
  • Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (REUTERS)Premium
    Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (REUTERS)

    The policy response to coronavirus in England isn’t succeeding in controlling the disease’s spread, scientists said Thursday, adding pressure on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce another national lockdown.

    Infections are doubling every nine days and an estimated 960,000 people are carrying the virus in England on any one day, according to the latest findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, which is conducting one of the country’s largest studies of the disease. The reproduction rate of the virus -- a measure of how many people on average are infected by a single carrier -- has risen to 1.6, compared to 1.2 when the last figures were published Oct. 9.

    “Our results suggest strongly that one or more of: the policies themselves, the timing of tier advancement, or levels of compliance, have not been sufficient to date to achieve control of the second wave of Covid-19," the scientists said in their report, led by Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial. “The second wave of the epidemic in England has now reached a critical stage."

    The stark results of the Imperial study come as Johnson faces growing calls to impose even tighter social restrictions in the fight against the virus, as deaths and cases climb once again. Elsewhere in Europe, governments are already taking action: France has announced a new monthlong nationwide lockdown and Germany has imposed its toughest rules since the spring.

    “It would be wrong of us to ignore what’s going on in other European countries," Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said on ITV’s “Peston" on Wednesday night, when asked about the prospect of introducing a national lockdown. “Let us hope we don’t have to do that, but I do think we are in this for the long-haul."

    The Imperial findings cohere with new modeling by the government’s emergency scientific committee SAGE, which suggests the U.K. is on course for a prolonged winter peak in the pandemic where there will be more deaths than last spring.

    So far Johnson has resisted a second national lockdown, preferring a localized approach where regions with the highest infection rates face tougher social distancing rules, including a ban on household mixing and closing pubs that don’t sell meals. Nottinghamshire was the latest area to move into the government’s highest level of restrictions on Wednesday, joining the likes of Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Merseyside.

    The U.K.’s national coronavirus deaths and cases continue to rise: 310 new deaths from Covid-19 were reported on Wednesday, following the 367 on Tuesday which was the highest daily total since May. The number of daily positive cases rose by 24,701, compared to 22,885 the day before.

    “The high prevalence already reached and the rapid acceleration mean that inevitably there will be large numbers of hospitalizations and deaths," the scientists said in the Imperial report. “Whether via regional or national measures, it is now time-critical to control the virus."


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    Published: 29 Oct 2020, 06:20 AM IST
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