British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering imposing a new month-long national lockdown in England next week after scientists warned the coronavirus was spreading faster than their worst predictions, local media reported. The pandemic is spreading in most parts of Britain, where the official death toll of 46,299 is the highest in Europe.
The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day and scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.
As Johnson prepared for a hastily arranged news conference in Downing Street after news of the lockdown leaked to local media, the government said total confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen 21,915 in the past day to 1,011,660.
The news conference was delayed and was now expected to take place at 6:30 p.m. (1830 GMT), a source said.
Johnson held a cabinet meeting on Saturday after government scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.
The Times newspaper said Johnson might announce that only essential shops, nurseries, schools and universities will remain open in a month-long lockdown. Johnson’s office declined to comment.Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland run their own pandemic policies.
Australia’s Labor Party on track to win Queensland vote in COVID-dominated race
The Labor Party in Australia’s Queensland state was on track on Saturday to retain power in an election overshadowed by COVID-19, with voters approving the strict measures that put the state at odds with the national government. Final results were expected late into Saturday night, but a partial count showed Labor was polling well at a primary vote of 40.8% with the Liberal National Party on 34.2%, according to the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
Slovakia mobilizes as bid to COVID-test most of country in two days begins
Long queues formed outside coronavirus testing centres in Slovakia on Saturday, as the country embarked on a bid to test most of the country’s 5.5 million inhabitants over a single weekend. Up to 20,000 medics plus support teams including soldiers staffed around 5,000 sites to administer the antigen swab tests.