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British PM Johnson postpones planned easing of coronavirus lockdown after rise in infections

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By Alistair Smout and Paul Sandle

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed a planned easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England after a rise in infections amplified fears of a second deadly surge in COVID-19 cases.

Just hours after Britain imposed tougher measures on swathes of northern England, Johnson announced that casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, due to reopen on Saturday, would remain shut for at least two more weeks.

Wedding receptions would also not be allowed.

"We're now seeing a warning light on the dashboard," Johnson told reporters at an online news conference from Downing Street when asked about a second surge.

"Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control."

Britain's death toll from COVID-19 is over 55,000 when deaths from suspected cases are included, and it has the highest "excess death" rate in Europe.

The abrupt halt to the unwind and the imposition of stricter restrictions on more than 4 million people were the biggest reversal to date in Britain's path out of lockdown.

"I know that the steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people," Johnson added. "I am really, really sorry about that but we simply cannot take the risk."

As the world grapples with a possible second wave, Johnson said the virus was gathering pace in Asia and Latin America while continental Europe was struggling to keep it under control.

The virus, which first emerged in China, has already killed at least 670,000 people and battered the global economy.

Britain reported 846 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily number in over a month.

UK scientists are no longer confident the reproduction number in England is below 1, the government said on Friday, meaning the epidemic could be growing again.

A separate survey also showed infections were on the rise for the first time since May.

"Evidence from Europe implies that we should take the apparent increase seriously, as acting too late can make lockdowns longer and increase mortality," said Daniel Lawson, lecturer in statistical science at the University of Bristol.

"The UK is clearly close to the tipping point in which the infection grows ... We should be prepared for further rapid action to prevent the infection from getting out of control again."

England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, speaking alongside Johnson, said the government had probably reached the limits of reopening.

"We all know that what we have to try and do is to get to the absolute edge of what we can do in terms of opening up society and the economy without getting to the point where the virus starts to take off again," he said.

"We have probably reached near the limits, or the limits, of what we can do in terms of opening up society."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

6 Comments
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Another fine mess from the folks who brought Brexit and for the folks who bought it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The easing of the lockdown has been handled very badly, with contradictory messages from the Government and not enforcing laws on face coverings and distancing. This halting of lockdown measures was inevitable.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just like America, Europeans and Brits are reaping what they sowed by not doing what is necessary. The only way to deal with the virus is to do what they did in New Zealand: lock up the borders, then go hard for six weeks and shut the place down until communal spread of the virus dies out. Then, keep the borders locked up and only allow one's own citizens and a few essential workers to enter the country, but stick them in strict quarantine for a period and test them twice for convid-19 towards either end of that period. In New Zealand, they are enjoying sports events in packed stadiums, going to symphony orchestra concerts in packed concert halls and generally carrying on life as normal while watching the total chaos elsewhere in the world. Mind you, one needs REAL leadership like their prime minister Jacinda Ardern, instead of incompetent clowns such as Boris Johnson and Donald J. Trump running the show. The Kiwis have shown the rest of the world how to deal with the virus.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There's some UK Press comments saying that "Muslims" are complaining that this is a Racist move against their Eid-Al-adha time and likening it to a shutdown over Christmas....

The average natural Brit wouldn't complain of a shutdown over Christmas.... just the Religious nuts would.

Instead the most annoying thing for the average Brit. is the seemingly ambiguous language used and the complete lack of foresight portrayed by the Government ... coupled with the Average Brit stupidity... of going on vacation to another Country during a Pandemic... is well... pretty much sums up today's Britain.... Off a cliff and into the Dustbin.

Europe and the UK are perhaps best better suited being apart at present until things get sorted out with both Covid and Brainlessness.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And.... on the "Brainlessness" comment... don't think that that, is solely targeted at the UK general population... oh no... Europe, needs sorting out big time. Its turning into a China like entity - which the Germans still believe they should run in their way.... but we're not all Robots, and one rule doesn't fit all...

The CCP is and has been manipulating this for quite a while, and now are trying to exert their power to take control themselves... as perhaps a last ditch attempt at their own survival... however it's plain to see that for most normal people... I wonder if Interpol will uphold the arrest warrants for the non-Chinese people who've raised complaints about the CCP and who've been indicted by the CCP in HK... this is what I said would happen... and it's happened now.. where will it end ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The average natural Brit wouldn't complain of a shutdown over Christmas.

Of course they would.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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