UK announces fresh lockdown as COVID-19 cases explode

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a raft of tough new restrictions for England as its coronavirus disaster escalates.

A family gather around the television in Liverpool to watch Boris Johnson give a televised message to the nation from 10 Downing Street in London. Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP
Boris Johnson has revealed Britain will once again be plunged into lockdown in a bid to contain the escalating coronavirus nightmare.

The new lockdown – the third since the pandemic began, and the toughest since March 2020 – is expected to last six weeks and will come into effect from tomorrow.

In a national address on Tuesday morning Australia time, Mr Johnson said the new variant of the coronavirus which has caused a fresh disaster in the UK was both “frustrating and alarming”, given it was 50 to 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strain.

He explained UK hospitals were under more pressure now than at any point previously during the pandemic, with almost 30,000 people hospitalised, a 40 per cent jump compared with the first peak.

In fact, he claimed that official statistics indicated that if the nation did not take action immediately, hospitals would be overwhelmed within three weeks.

As a result, a red level five alert – the highest available – was issued, meaning there was a “material risk” of hospitals being overwhelmed within weeks.

It was announced by the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers, including Professor Chris Whitty and NHS England’s medical director Professor Stephen Powis.

In a joint statement, the CMOs said the health system was “already under immense pressure”.

There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of Covid patients in hospitals and in intensive care, the statement reads.
Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said the only solution was a new lockdown, claiming it had become “clear that we need to do more” to bring the virus “under control”.

He said in the past week the number of COVID-relate deaths had risen by 20 per cent, and that the number would “sadly rise further”.

The PM urged vulnerable members of the public to “shield” themselves against the illness and warned that the latest lockdown would be a challenge for the nation, although he also shared a message of hope for the frustrated population.

The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe we’re entering the last stage of the struggle, he said.
Thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight, but we know exactly how we will get there.

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