National lockdown 'last line of defence' as Lancashire faces tougher measures

‘Circuit-break’ second national lockdown looms as UK’s Matt Hancock reveals government strategy

Hospital admissions were doubling every eight days, but he refused to say whether or not another national lockdown would be imposed next month.

Its model pointed to about 6,000 new cases a day in England in the week to September 10, up from 3,200 cases per day in the previous week, with the North West and London seen as hot spots.

Proposals being worked up for such a "circuit break" could see essential travel to schools and workplaces continuing, but restaurants and bars would shut - or perhaps run on restricted hours - and different households would be asked not to mix. "Unfortunately, it isn't just cases increasing, it's also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing". That is still behind France which has more than 10,000 cases a day.

Tighter restrictions on socialising, affecting more than two million people, came into force on Friday in Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, and County Durham.

While addressing a news briefing on Friday, the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the last resort to contain the coronavirus spread in the country is to impose a nationwide lockdown.

On Thursday, Britain taped 21 deaths from the illness, taking the overall under the federal government's accounting technique to 41,705.

"As schools will be closed for one week at half-term, adding an extra week to that will have limited impact on education", said one scientist who is a member of Sage, confirming the body had considered the case for a national lockdown in October.

"We will do what it takes to keep people safe".

Asked about the Financial Times report, Mr Hancock told Sky News' Kay Burley: "The last line of defence is full national action and I don't want to see that but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very hard pandemic". The North East was most recently locked down and Lancashire will be added too, with the exception of Blackpool.

Mr Hancock confirmed the government would be "making further announcements" on localised action later in the day.

The ONS said there had been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive aged 2 to 11 years, 17 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years.

Asked about a second lockdown, he said: "I can't give you that answer now".

"It isn't something that we ever take off the table but it isn't something that we want to see either, it is the last line of defence", Mr Hancock said.

"The rule of six, we've made it really simple so everybody can understand it", he said.

"But what I would say this morning is the country once again needs to come together and recognise there is a serious challenge".

Responding to the news the government is considering possible further national restrictions, Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it "clearly indicates that there is deep concern in government that we could be on the cusp of a deadly second spike".

The government has faced stinging criticism this week over the failure to achieve the "world-beating" testing and tracing system it promised would be in place over the summer months.

"We're prepared to do what it takes both to protect lives and to protect livelihoods".



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