Britain's health minister said on Friday that the novel coronavirus was accelerating across the country, with hospital admissions doubling every eight days, but refused to say whether or not another national lockdown would be imposed next month.
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The United Kingdom has reported the fifth largest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
Asked repeatedly by Sky News about the prospect of a second national lockdown next month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that a lockdown was a last resort, but that the government would do whatever it takes to tackle the virus.
“The number of people in hospital is doubling every eight days or so ... we will do what it takes to keep people safe,” Hancock said. “We keep these things under review.”
Asked about a second lockdown, he said: “I can't give you that answer now.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized by opposition politicians for his initial response to the outbreak and the government has struggled to ensure sufficient testing in recent weeks.
COVID-19 cases started to rise again in Britain in September, with between 3,000 and 4,000 positive tests recorded daily in the last week, but that is still some way behind France and its more than 10,000 cases a day.
On Thursday, Britain recorded 21 deaths from the disease, taking the total under the government's accounting method to 41,705.