World

Britain at COVID-19 'tipping point,' health minister says

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.

Cases have risen sharply in recent weeks to more than 4,000 per day

Despite saying a second wave of the coronavirus is now hitting the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants to avoid another national lockdown. 1:20

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 to more than 4,000 per day. 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 a possible option.

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

Protesters clash with police officers during an anti-mask rally at Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Johnson announced fines of up to 10,000 pounds ($17,000 Cdn) 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.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants fast action to halt the worsening spread in London, a spokesperson for Khan said ahead of meetings on Monday when authorities in the capital will formulate recommended next steps for ministerial approval.
 
"The mayor wants fast action as we cannot risk a delay, as happened in March," the spokesperson said. "It is better for both health and business to move too early than too late."

Many in the crowd of protesters held signs with the words 'plandemic' and 'hoax.' (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

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 criticized the government's testing system for not having the capacity to deal with increased demand as schools returned.

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