UK govt refuses to rule out second Covid lockdown
The UK government on Friday has refused to rule out a second national coronavirus lockdown as the number of infections continued to rise.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that while options were being reviewed, a second shutdown was not one of them at this stage. However, he added that he had learnt in in the course of the pandemic “not ever to rule anything out”.
“This is a big moment for the country, we are seeing an acceleration in the number of cases, we are also seeing that the number of people hospitalised with coronavirus is doubling every eight days,” he told the BBC.
Hancock said the government was using "targeted interventions" to combat the latest outbreak, stressing "a national lockdown is the last line of defence".
The government's chief scientific adviser and medical officer forecast on Wednesday that there would be a significant number of deaths by the end of October if there were no further interventions.
Possible measures being discussed by ministers and officials, described as a "circuit break", would include asking some hospitality businesses to close, or limiting the opening hours of some pubs and restaurants nationwide.
Hancock said that most new transmission was occurring within these social settings, meaning that schools and workplaces could remain open.
“The strategy is to keep the virus down as much as is possible, while protecting education and the economy and doing everything we possibly can for the cavalry that is on the horizon of the vaccine and mass testing and the treatments.”
“These can be done alongside restrictions of our social lives basically. That is the approach that we’ve been taking in the areas of local lockdown.”
Britain reported more than 3,300 new cases reported on Thursday. France and Spain have both seen a rapid surge with each reporting more than 10,000 new positive cases a day - more than 20 times higher the level in June.