London, Oct 17 | UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s coronavirus restrictions as “the right and responsible thing to do” in the fight against the ongoing pandemic.
“Taking action is the right and responsible thing to do,” he said during a virtual press conference at Downing Street on Friday.
“Without action our health service will be overwhelmed. I want to avoid another national lockdown,” Johnson added
The government’s 3-Tier Covid-19 alert system came into force in England on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.
under the Tier Two of the alert system, millions of London residents will face tougher measures from Saturday with different households banned from meeting in indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Lancashire will join Liverpool and move into Tier Three, the highst level of the alert system, also from Saturday.
The “very high” alert level means pub closures and bans on household mixing indoors, in private gardens and most outdoor venues.
In the virtual presser, Johnson also said that the UK has “started building the domestic infrastructure” to offer more rapid tests which could provide results as fast as 15 minutes.
The government plans to “start distributing and trialling tests across the country… In time we want to use tests to keep open more parts of the economy that have sadly been closed.” Johnson said.
Talking about Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s reluctance to move the city to Tier Three restrictions, the Prime Minister said that he “completely” understands.
But faced with the “grave” situation, Johnson said he might “have to intervene”, adding that efforts will be “more effective” if everyone works together.
The Prime Minister further said that his government was taking “every possible step” to find a coronavirus vaccine.
Joining Johnson at the briefing, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said coronavirus infections have been spreading from younger to older people, leading to increased hospital admissions, especially in northern England.
But he said 40 per cent of people in hospital currently are under the age of 60.
Asked about whether a “circuit breaker” lockdown would save more lives than the regional tier approach, Vallance said the government has to take various factors into consideration, including the economy and mental health.
However, he did admit that even the highest level of the Tier Three restrictions are “not enough” to tackle the virus and further actions could be needed on the worst-affected areas.
The UK’s coronavirus reproduction number, also known as the R number, has edged up slightly, the latest government figures showed Friday.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the R number is now between 1.3 and 1.5, up from last week which was between 1.2 and 1.5.
The R number is one of many indicators scientists use to determine how fast Covid-19 is spreading in the country. If the R number is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.
The country reported 15,650 fresh Covid-19 cases, which increased the overall tally to 689,257.
The death toll currently stands at 43,429.