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England May Face Extensive Coronavirus Lockdowns This Winter

August 30, 2020, 11.56 PM

LONDON, – A government official said Saturday that England could face “national action” and “very extensive local lockdowns” if a winter coronavirus wave occurs.

Such coronavirus lockdowns would happen to prevent a “worst-case scenario” of 80,000 deaths.

"A second wave is clearly visible in other parts of the world," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Saturday's Times newspaper.

"Cases go up again, and we have to use very extensive local lockdowns or take further national action. We don't rule that out but we don't want to see it."

Read also: Finland Travel Restrictions Reinstated as Second Wave of Infections Hit Europe

The United Kingdom has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic battle, with over 41,000 dead.

It recently eased lockdown restrictions in line with a downturn in hospitalizations and number of Covid-19 deaths.

But cases have ticked up in recent weeks and the government is worried about another wave of the virus arriving during flu season.

Although more restrictions could be re-introduced, schools would likely remain open, according to a report prepared for the government by the Sage scientific advisory group and aired on BBC's Newsnight late Friday.

By November "policy measures would be put in place to reduce non-household contacts to half of their normal pre-March 2020 levels", it said.

Read also: UK Quarantine List Adds Croatia and Austria, Removes Portugal

The report found 85,000 more could die across Britain, with more than 80,000 in England alone, in a "reasonable worst-case scenario", although stressed that this figure was not "a prediction" and the data are subject to "significant uncertainty".

The estimate assumes that schools would remain open and that the government's tracing and quarantine measures will be around 40 percent effective.

Carl Heneghan, from Oxford University, told the BBC that the model was "implausible" and that it assumed that "we've learnt nothing from the first wave of this disease".

The government told the broadcaster that its plans were under constant review, and were driven by the latest scientific advice. 

(Writers & Editors: JWP/ERC, Agence France-Presse)


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