UK needs tougher restrictions to tackle coronavirus, health minister says

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain needs to tighten restrictions in some areas of the country to tackle the rapid spread of a new variant of the coronavirus after case numbers surged in recent weeks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivers a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during a debate at the House of Commons in London, Britain December 30, 2020. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

Cases of COVID-19 have risen sharply in Britain in recent weeks, fuelled by a new and more transmissible variant of the virus. On Sunday there were nearly 55,000 new cases and in total more than 75,000 people in the country have died with COVID-19 during the pandemic – the second highest toll in Europe.

England is currently divided into four different tiers of restrictions, depending on the prevalence of the virus, and Hancock said the rules in some parts of the country in Tier 3 were clearly not working.

“There is very worrying data that shows the virus continues to spread,” he told BBC TV.

“We can see that in some of the Tier 3 areas cases are rising sharply so clearly more action – as the prime minister said – is going to be needed.”

“The new variant of this disease transmits from person to person so much easier than the old one.”

Asked on Sky News if the government was considering imposing a new national lockdown, he answered: “We don’t rule anything out.”

The government has spent the year trying to balance the need to shut down the country to contain the virus without hammering the economy.

The first national coronavirus lockdown in May last year prompted a 25% drop in economic output – unprecedented in modern records – leaving Britain’s economy harder hit by the pandemic than most others.

While the economy recovered partially in the third quarter, renewed lockdown measures threaten to cause a double-dip recession at the start of 2021.

Source: Read Full Article