UK to launch new Covid curbs, not ruling out national lockdown
New curbs called ‘circuit break’ are expected to be announced next week, aimed at restaurants, pubs and other hospitality areas.Updated: Sep 18, 2020, 16:55 IST
Another national lockdown in the UK is not being ruled out on Friday, as the number of new cases shows an ‘acceleration’ in recent days.
The number of those hospitalised is doubling every eight days, after the pandemic appeared well in control in July and August.
New curbs called ‘circuit break’ are expected to be announced next week, aimed at restaurants, pubs and other hospitality areas. They could be shut or asked to close early for some weeks. Parts of north England have been placed under new curbs.
This week, the number of patients in mechanical ventilator beds has risen above 100 for the first time since July. After daily new cases fell below 100 in July and August, they rose above 2,000 from early September. Thursday saw 3,395 new cases.
Facing intense pressure due to inability of many to get tests, health secretary Matt Hancock said in a BBC radio interview on Friday: “This is a big moment for the country. We are seeing an acceleration in the number of cases”.
“And we are also seeing that the number of people hospitalised with coronavirus is doubling every eight days. We are now starting to see the effects in hospital”.
Asked if he was considering a new national lockdown, he said: “I have learned over the last nine months not ever to rule anything out. However, it is not the proposal that’s on the table”, stressing that it is “critical” that people follow social distancing guidelines.
“If we do all these things, we can avoid having to take serious further measures,” he added.
Government medical and science advisers have reportedly recommended another national lockdown, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is against the severe measure that could further affect the economy.
There is growing concern about the new rise in cases in view of the onset of winter, when flu, cold and other seasonal ailments occupy the National Health Service.
The diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus in such a context adds a new challenge to the beleaguered health system grappling with severe staff shortage and other issues.