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UK Advisory Group Warns of Risk of 2nd COVID-19 Wave Weeks After Johnson Rejects New Shutdown

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In July, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson compared the option of another shutdown in the country to a “nuclear deterrent”, but stressed that he does not think the UK “will be in that position again”.

The UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has suggested that a second national lockdown could be imposed in Britain given that the country’s reproduction (R) number is currently between 0.9 and 1.1.

The R rate pertains to the number of people that a single infected person will go on to infect. An R rate above one means that each person will pass the coronavirus to more than one individual, prompting the epidemic to increase significantly.

The Telegraph, in turn, cited a unnamed senior government source as saying that if the current R rate is not contained, “it may be that some things that have been open, you need to think about whether measures need to be taken to reverse things”.

The source explained that the strategy should focus on dealing with the problem “through local outbreak management” and that much “depends on the trajectory, and how quickly we can get on top of outbreaks”.


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REUTERS / Molly Darlington

Police officers on horses stand guard outside the Civic Hall, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oldham, Britain, August 19, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington

Another insider was quoted by The Telegraph as saying that the UK is facing “a pretty bumpy autumn and winter and that’s going to go in the direction of increased cases and increased outbreaks”.

SAGE’s prediction came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told The Telegraph in late July that he rules out another nationwide shutdown in the country. 

“I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again”, he pointed out.

Stricter restrictions have, meanwhile, been announced for parts of northwest England, including the cities of Oldham and Blackburn, due to the increasing number of the COVID-19 cases there.

The development comes as Britain’s third-largest city Manchester remains under a local lockdown, while Birmingham, the country’s second biggest, is on the verge of restrictions as confirmed coronavirus cases there are on the rise.

As of 21 August, the number of the COVID-19 cases in Britain had jumped to 322,284, with 41,403 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation’s latest situation report.



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