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    July 09

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Scientist says UK on 'knife edge' as PM outlines ease in restrictions


Added 28 June 2020


A major incident was declared on Bournemouth beach as people flocked to the coast during this week's heatwave. (BBC)

London - The UK remains "on a knife edge" and must act "sensibly" over the summer months to stop a second wave of coronavirus, a scientist has warned.

Sir Jeremy Farrar said he is "worried" about a surge in cases ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening next month.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said people have to be "conscientious" about the risk of a second wave.

She said the city of Leicester could face a localised lockdown after a rise in cases.

Sir Jeremy, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and director of the Wellcome Trust, has warned there could be a "very nasty rebound" of the virus in the winter.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We're on a knife edge, it's very precarious the situation, particularly in England at the moment, and I would anticipate we would see an increase in new cases over the coming weeks."

The warning comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a major easing of England's lockdown restrictions, to help to reopen the economy. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and many other businesses will welcome back customers from July 4.

Each UK nation's lockdown measures differ, including varying rules on the reopening of food and drink outlets.

In Scotland, beer gardens and outdoor restaurants will be allowed to reopem from July 6, and indoor areas can be used from July 15. In Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants can open on July 3.

The Welsh government has promised talks with the hospitality sector about “a potential  phased” reopening, but no dates have yet been given.

PM's economic recovery plan

Asked about the concerns raised by Sir Jeremy, the home secretary told the BBC that "nothing would be more damaging for our country and for our economy" than a second spike in virus cases, adding that the government's plans to ease measures were "pragmatic and responsible".

Earlier, the PM told the Mail on Sunday that if the virus was a "lightning flash", the UK is about to have the "thunderclap of economic consequences".

Johnson made the comment as he set out his plans for a post-lockdown economic recovery – which will include a new taskforce to look at fast-tracking the building of hospitals, schools and roads.

The UK's coronavirus death toll rose by 36 on Sunday to 43,550. Most of the deaths were in England, while Scotland recorded no new coronavirus deaths for a third consecutive day.

The government's daily figures for virus deaths and new confirmed cases peaked in April and have been falling since then, although the downward trend is slowing. (BBC)

BELOW: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson did press-ups as he spoke about his own - and the economy's - recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19). (BBC)




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