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UK public prepares for new lockdown measures

With the UK COVID-19 infection rate growing and with more and more sections of the country under some form of lockdown, many are preparing for an imminent nation-wide lockdown.

Indeed, England is theoretically looking at about 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by mid-October with an ever-increasing death rate if the public doesn’t take precautions, according to several advisors in theUK.

With the rate of infection appearing to double every seven days, England appears to be following the resurgence of the disease in both Spain and France, according to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

CMO Chris Whitty (left) with CSA Patrick Vallance

“We are seeing a rate of increase across the great majority of the country,” Whitty said at a media briefing Monday.

“This is not someone else’s problem. It’s all of our problem,” he said.

“We are in a bad sense literally turning a corner, although only relatively recently. At this point the seasons are against us,” Whitty said.

Also at the briefing was Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, who said that on current trends, the daily count of cases will reach about 50,000 on October 13, and a month later exceed 200 deaths every day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The briefing serves to get citizens ready for an expected announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson later in the week on the action government will be taking to diminish the exponential coronavirus curve as the country heads into winter — a time when regular respiratory diseases increase.

Last week Johnson said that the country was experiencing a second wave of the disease, and that restrictions had been put in place for millions in some sections of England.

As of September 28, people will be legally obliged to self-isolate if they test positive or are told to by the National Health Service (NHS) tracing programme. With tougher regulations in place, people who refuse to self-isolate may face fines of up to £10,000.

“Science in due course will ride to our rescue” Whitty said, and that there would be a successful vaccine. But he warned that for the next six months, “if we don’t change course, the virus will take off”.

There are differences in how the four parts of the UK handle the pandemic, with the UK government responsible for health policy in England, but the parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having their own powers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The result has been that each part has taken a different approach, with only England introducing the recent Rule of Six for example. But Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped for “four-nation alignment” on next steps.

At a daily briefing in Edinburgh, however, she said that “if necessary, it will have to happen without that”.

“Implementing further measures now is very much, I hope, about controlling this virus while avoiding the need for a full-scale lockdown of the type we had to impose in March,” she said.

Over in Cardiff, the government in Cardiff announced that three more areas of south Wales would be placed under local lockdown because of a rise in coronavirus cases.

And in Northern Ireland, the government in Belfast announced that there would be no more mixing of households indoors and no more than six people in gardens from two households.

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