UK health secretary not ruling out NEW level of Covid-19 restrictions as cases continue to surge
As hundreds of thousands more prepare to be moved to England’s Tier 3 level of coronavirus restrictions, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would “rule nothing out,” as it considers a new level of stricter rules.
During an interview on the BBC’s Breakfast show on Monday, Hancock declared that the UK government would “take nothing off the table” when asked if they would consider introducing even more severe restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“The rise in the number of cases has slowed a bit. Now, the problem is that it’s still going up and while it’s still going up, we’ve got to act to get it under control because we know, by the laws of mathematics, that an exponential growth in this virus would lead to the NHS being overwhelmed,” Hancock said.
The health secretary floated the idea of a new set of ‘Tier 4’ rules for the hardest hit areas of the country. At the same time, Hancock praised England’s ‘Test and Trace’ system, despite criticism it has faced in recent weeks for repeatedly failing to meet its necessary targets. He stated that the system is “an extraordinary” operation that has reached “over a million people.”
Along with the new restrictions, Hancock said the UK government is looking at reducing the amount of time people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive have to isolate if they do not show symptoms. In England, you would currently have to isolate for 14 days. The health secretary is consulting “clinical science” over whether it should be reduced to seven days.
England currently has a three-tiered system of coronavirus restrictions depending on the local infection rate, ranging from medium to very high. Extra measures could currently be introduced for individual areas if the transmission rates are not slowed by the implementation of the strictest set of rules.
The comments come as Lancashire, Liverpool, Greater Manchester, and South Yorkshire are stuck in tier-three lockdowns with hundreds of thousands of people elsewhere in the country preparing to face similar restrictions and talks continue between the government and local councils. The increase in the number of areas currently with the strictest measures could come as early as Wednesday.
The UK has recorded 19,790 new coronavirus cases and 151 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, according to data released by the Health Department. Figures released by the nation’s statistics agencies show that over 59,000 deaths in the UK have been linked to coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
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