Spike in infections challenges UK government - GulfToday

Spike in infections challenges UK government


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Britain is on the brink, particularly where the coronavirus is concerned. More than two million people in northeast England face new restrictions because of a surge in coronavirus cases.

Government scientists have reportedly proposed a blanket lockdown to come into force across England over two weeks in October.

However, some lockdown measures may be reintroduced sooner rather than later, a former senior government health adviser said on Saturday.

“I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later,” Neil Ferguson, a professor of epidemiology at London’s Imperial College told the BBC.

The rise in cases exerts fresh pressure on Johnson’s government, that has been squarely slammed for its response to the outbreak, which has claimed nearly 42,000 lives, the highest in Europe. The number of new cases are reaching levels not seen since April, reflecting a similar picture across Europe.

Britain was slow to impose lockdown measures. That delay came with a price.

A probe by a well-known news agency highlighted missteps by officials and government agencies. Some of them are:

• Failure to build up capacity to perform mass tests for COVID-19.

• A decision to abandon testing of most people who didn’t require hospitalisation, and failure, early on, to create any way to track infection.

• A decision to abandon a programme of widespread “contact tracing,” in which people in contact with an infected person were traced and told to isolate to stop the outbreak spreading.

• Deciding to share almost no details about the location of infections with local public health officials or the public.

Clearly, the signs of a spread of the virus across all age groups were all too evident – so was the rise in hospital admissions of older people.

Tighter regulations on socializing were due to come into force from Friday in Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, and County Durham.

Residents will be banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people from outside their household, while food and drink venues will be restricted to table service only.

The curbs could considerably impact families, businesses and communities.

The Office of National Statistics, which uses broader criteria for counting COVID-19 fatalities, has said closer to 58,000 Britons have died from the virus.

According to government statistics, a total of 18,371 people tested positive in England in the week to September 19 – up 75 percent on the previous week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to observe the new rules to “stop the second hump” in the pandemic, comparing Britain’s trajectory of resurgent cases to a camel’s profile.

He said it was “the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas” and was an alternative to another full lockdown, which he has said would be financially disastrous.

Johnson had compared Britain’s first wave of virus cases to a sombrero, a hat worn in countries such as Mexico and Spain, imploring people to “squash it” by obeying the nationwide lockdown in place from late March until June.

He has been hauled over the coals for failing to achieve the “world-beating” testing and tracing system he promised would be in place over the summer months.

Johnson has quite a tall goal: he has promised to have testing capacity up to 500,000 a day by the end of October to help cope with increased demand as winter approaches and seasonal flu cases increase.

As schools return and businesses start up again, bringing more people into close contact, the challenges can be quite alarming. Britain’s people are paying the price for the way the government has handled the coronavirus crisis.

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