UK 'heading in the wrong direction' as coronavirus cases rise

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The UK’s battle with coronavirus is “heading in the wrong direction” and the country will face a very challenging winter, the chief medical officer has warned.

Professor Chris Whitty is going to make public on Monday the state of Britain’s pandemic response.

The government warned at the weekend that infections rates are still rising, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he fears a second wave is coming, and ways to tighten lockdown restrictions have been aired.

Before a news conference on Monday, excerpts of what Prof Whitty will say have been released.

"The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic," he is expected to say.

"We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus before a very challenging winter period."

Coronavirus has killed more than 40,000 people in Britain since the start of the pandemic in March.

England tightened its lockdown rules from Monday after the daily coronavirus cases in Britain surged to around 3,000. Reuters

Social gatherings of more than six people in England have been outlawed. AFP

The rule of six restrictions do not apply to schools, workplaces or weddings, funerals or team sports. Reuters

People dine out in Soho, London. They rules do apply to gatherings in restaurants. PA via AP

People dine out in Chinatown, London. PA via AP

People sit in the sunshine in Kings Cross in London, Britain. EPA

A commuter walks across London Bridge toward the City of London. AFP

Commuters walk across London Bridge toward the City of London. AFP

People peddle boats in the sunshine at Alexandra Palace in London, Britain. EPA

A woman waits in a bus stop in Solihull, central England. AFP

A poster is seen on a door requiring to wear a mask in Tenby, Wales. Reuters

People stand on the pavement to socialise in the West End of Glasgow. AFP

People sit in the sunshine in Kings Cross in London, Britain. EPA

People sit in the sunshine in Kings Cross in London, Britain. EPA

People walk past a sign encouraging social distance in a shopping street in Solihull, central England. AFP

New cases fell rapidly due to an unprecedented three-month national lockdown, but have risen as the shuttered economy, schools and offices reopened.

The government has been heavily criticised for a shortage of testing capacity.

The warning from Prof Whitty is expected to foreshadow a national address by Mr Johnson later in the week, although it has not been confirmed.

Health minister Matt Hancock on Sunday refused to rule out another national lockdown but said if people followed the rules then this would not be necessary.

"People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines," Mr Johnson said on Saturday.

More than 10 million of the UK’s 67 million population are already in some form of local lockdown. More restrictions will start on Tuesday in Lancashire, Merseyside, parts of the Midlands and West Yorkshire.

The government is desperate to avoid a second national lockdown.

Among the idea to avoid it is a “circuit-break” plan which would heavily curtail social contacts but keeps open schools and large sectors of the economy.

People in England who refuse to follow an order to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the coronavirus can now be fined up to £10,000 (Dh47,440), the UK Government said on Saturday.

Updated: September 21, 2020 02:32 AM

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