U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new month-long lockdown for England as COVID-19 cases surge across the country.
About 25,000 new cases of the disease are being reported each day in the U.K. Daily hospital admissions are nearing 2,000, and deaths have reached about 200 daily.
England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said the prevalence of COVID has been going up “extremely rapidly” over the last few weeks after having been “very flat” due to social distancing measures in the spring and summer. If nothing is done, within the next few weeks the numbers are expected to reach 3,000 hospitalizations a day, above the spring peak, and deaths could reach 800 per day or more.
The lockdown is slated to start Thursday and last through Dec. 2. Parliament will vote on the measures on Wednesday.
Johnson said there was no alternative. “We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature, and in this country, alas, as across much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers.” Deaths could reach several thousand a day if the nation doesn’t act, he said.
Beyond the loss of life, an exponential growth in the number of patients will overwhelm the country’s National Health Service. “The risk is that for the first time in our lives, the NHS will not be there for us and our families,” Johnson said.
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