Coronavirus: UK PM Johnson not heading for complete lockdown yet, says minister

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not yet heading towards a full national lockdown in England despite calls from the opposition leader for a “circuit breaker” lockdown, Work and Pensions Minister Thérèse Coffey said on Wednesday.

“I do not believe that the prime minister wants to set off on a national lockdown, but as ever he is advised by scientists -- he takes that decision,” Coffey told Sky.

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Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called on Tuesday for a two to three week “circuit breaker” lockdown to save lives. Starmer said Johnson’s attempt to tackle the virus wasn’t working.

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Asked if England was heading for a national lockdown in the next two weeks, Coffey said: “I don’t believe that is the case but as I say this will continue to be a decision that the prime minister will lead on.”

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Coffey said the three-tier system of lockdowns announced on Monday should be given a chance to work.

But government scientific advisers said in a paper due to be published on Wednesday that a two-week full lockdown from October 24 could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100, The Times reported.

The paper by Graham Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, says that “the optimal time for a break is always now; there are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break.”

If daily deaths reach more than 200, a circuit breaker could reduce the toll for the rest of the year from 80,000 to less than 40,000, The Times said.

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