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UPDATE 3-Britain is at COVID-19 tipping point, health minister says

Sun, 20th Sep 2020 09:45

(Updates with latest case numbers)

By William James

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Britain is at a tipping point on
COVID-19, health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday, warning
that a second national lockdown could be imposed if people don't
follow government rules designed to stop the spread of the
virus.

COVID-19 cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, with
3,899 reported on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called it a second wave and
stricter lockdown measures have been introduced in areas across
the country - with London possibly next in line.

"The nation faces a tipping point and we have a choice,"
Hancock told Sky News. "The choice is either that everybody
follows the rules ... or we will have to take more measures."

Hancock later told the BBC that a second national lockdown
was possible option.

"I don't rule it out, I don't want to see it," he said.

Johnson announced fines of up to 10,000 pounds ($12,900) on
Saturday for people in England who break new rules requiring
them to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone
infected with COVID-19.

In addition to tighter rules on social gatherings across the
country, several cities and regions in Britain have had 'local
lockdowns' imposed, limiting even more strictly when, where and
how many people can meet up socially.

Asked about comments from London mayor Sadiq Khan, who said
on Friday new restrictions were increasingly likely in the
capital, Hancock said: "I've had discussions this week with the
Mayor of London, and the teams are meeting today to discuss
further what might be needed."

Hancock was also asked on Times Radio about the possibility
of Londoners being told to work from home later this week, and
said: "Well, I wouldn't rule it out."

The opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said he
would support whatever measures the government brings forward,
but criticised the government's testing system for not having
the capacity to deal with increased demand as schools returned.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by David Clarke and Toby
Chopra)

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