Sunday, 23 January 2022

UK extends lockdown for at least three more weeks

People walk past a poster in Stoke Newington as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON: Britain’s novel coronavirus outbreak is starting to peak but it is too early to lift the lockdown because the virus would “run rampant” if the government eased social distancing measures, health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

The United Kingdom has the fifth highest official death toll from COVID-19 in the world, after the United States, Italy, Spain and France, though the figure only covers hospital fatalities and the real number is probably much higher.

“We think it is too early to make a change,” Hancock said. “While we’ve seen a flattening of the number of cases, and thankfully a flattening of the number of deaths, that hasn’t started to come down yet.”

“If we just released all the measures now, then this virus would run rampant once again and we can’t let that happen.”

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson recuperates at a country residence from COVID-19 complications that nearly cost him his life, the British government discussed a review of the lockdown on Thursday. An announcement is expected later.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Johnson, has already made clear there will be no immediate lifting of the social distancing measures announced on March 23.

The United Kingdom’s death toll from COVID-19 in hospitals rose 861 to 13,729.

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