Second wave of coronavirus has arrived in UK, Johnson says

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Boris Johnson is warning that a second wave of coronavirus has arrived in the UK, as scientists reported the “widespread growth” of the virus across the country.

The UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the R number – representing the number of people an infected person will pass the virus to – has risen to between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning cases could rise very quickly.

As UK ministers announced tough new restrictions affecting 13.5 million people, prime minister Johnson said they would “keep everything under review”.

There’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in.

“There’s no question, as I’ve said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in,” he told reporters during a visit to the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford.

“We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe – it has been absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country.”

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Public Health England (PHE) warned that data published on Friday could be a sign of “far worse things to come”, as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said cases are thought to have almost doubled in a week to 6,000-a-day in England.

National lockdown

It comes as ministers discuss whether further national restrictions are needed, such as forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm or curbs on people socialising.

The Prime Minister insisted that he did not want a second national lockdown, but said it was essential that people followed social distancing guidelines – including the new “rule of six”.

“But as we look at this particular curve and what is happening now, clearly we are going to keep everything under review. I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all, it is the last thing anybody wants,” he said.

“I don’t want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all, we want to keep schools open and it is fantastic the schools have gone back in the way they have. We want to keep the economy open as far as we possibly can, we want to keep businesses going.

“The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance.”

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Ministers are thought to be considering a two-week national “circuit break”, an attempt to break the chain of transmission.

Earlier, however, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock stressed the focus remained on local interventions, as he announced new restrictions for large parts of England’s North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens, while restaurants, pubs and bars will be restricted to table service only in these areas.

Residents are also advised to avoid public transport unless it is essential, as well as professional or amateur sporting events.

The new rules do not apply to Bolton or Greater Manchester, where separate restrictions are already in place.

Overall, around 13.5 million people are currently living under restrictions or will be from Tuesday.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, warned local lockdown restrictions were “increasingly likely” in the capital after he held an emergency meeting with the Government and council leaders.

On Friday, new confirmed daily cases of coronavirus hit 4,322 – the highest since May 8th.

Cases of the virus and hospital admissions for Covid-19 are doubling every seven to eight days in the UK, according to the new data.

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