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Coronavirus: UK set to announce lockdown extension
16 April 2020
- Coronavirus pandemic
Lockdown restrictions in the UK will continue for at least another three weeks, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to announce.
At the daily No 10 briefing, Mr Raab will detail the results of the first three-week review of the restrictions.
Labour said it would support an extension, but called for details on how and when the lockdown would end.
It comes as the UK recorded another 861 coronavirus deaths, taking the total number of hospital deaths to 13,729.
Earlier, a scientist advising the government, Prof Neil Ferguson, said a “significant level” of social distancing would be needed until a vaccine was found.
Strict limits on daily life – such as requiring people to stay at home, shutting many businesses and preventing gatherings of more than two people – were introduced on 23 March, as the government tried to limit the spread of coronavirus.
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Ministers are required by law to assess whether the rules are working, based on expert advice, every three weeks.
Some countries across Europe which introduced lockdown measures before the UK are now beginning to ease them, including Austria, Italy and Germany. But they continue to require some social distancing measures, which reduce close contact between people and prevent large gatherings.
The announcement in the UK comes after a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee, involving the first ministers of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
In Scotland, a further 80 people have died in hospitals. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the lockdown should continue because “we are not confident enough that the virus has been suppressed sufficiently”.
Wales recorded another 32 deaths, with First Minister Mark Drakeford saying it is “still too early to change course”.
Northern Ireland saw its highest daily toll, with a further 18 deaths in hospitals, and England recorded another 740 deaths.
The tallies for individual nations can differ from the UK-wide total, because they are calculated on a different timeframe.
Not ‘back to normal’
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told BBC Breakfast that Labour would back an extension to the UK restrictions.
But he called for clarity from the government about “what happens next” and for a move to a “testing and contact-tracing strategy” to exit the lockdown.
Contact tracing aims to identify and alert people who have come into contact with a person infected with the virus, so they can be isolated and avoid passing on the infection themselves.
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Prof Ferguson from Imperial College, who has been advising the government on the pandemic, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that easing the lockdown after another three weeks would require “a single-minded emphasis” in government on “scaling up” testing and contact tracing.
And he said the UK was not likely to be “back to normal” when restrictions were relaxed, with social distancing measures expected to be required in some form until a vaccine became available.
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sources: world news from bbc news bbc.co.uk