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14 Sep, 2020 13:20

UK may be ‘weeks away’ from another national Covid-19 lockdown, Wales health minister warns

UK may be ‘weeks away’ from another national Covid-19 lockdown, Wales health minister warns

The United Kingdom may be heading for another nationwide lockdown, Wales Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said, as the number of new coronavirus cases across the nation jumped by almost two times since late August.

Unless the country adheres to social distancing rules to “recover some ground” in the fight against Covid-19, the authorities would be forced to impose another lockdown, Gething told BBC Radio Wales.

We have a number of weeks to be able to get to a position where we can recover some of the ground with a return to effective social distancing…or we will be forced into greater local lockdowns and the potential for another national lockdown.

The nation seems to be “in a parallel position” to where it was in early February, the minister said, adding that London had to impose strict restrictions to stem the spread of the epidemic by the third week of March.

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The British government recently introduced a host of new restrictive measures, after the first weeks of September saw a sharp rise in new cases – up to 3,500 per day, which is an increase on the 1,500 daily cases registered in late August.

The restrictions limit social gatherings to no more than six people, or 30 at weddings and funerals, and anyone violating the new rules will face a fine – of up to £10,000 ($12,879), for example, if they throw a house party.

Gething also reminded listeners that, in Wales, the wearing of masks is mandatory in shops and all public spaces – although face coverings would not protect people if they weren’t “respecting social distancing,” he said.

The minister said that 20 people in the UK per 100,000 were currently testing positive for Covid-19 and called the situation serious enough for “a reintroduction of Cobra meetings” between the leaders of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Such meetings would be “more important than ever, given where we are,” he said.

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However, should the situation get out of hand and those other three leaders fail to cooperate, Gething said he was ready to introduce a lockdown in Wales only. Last week, Caerphilly, a town in South Wales, was put into a local lockdown after it saw more cases than it did at the peak of the epidemic between March and April. People were banned from entering or leaving the borough without a reasonable excuse.

Earlier, it was reported that UK ministers are considering imposing a nationwide 10pm curfew if a second wave of Covid-19 hits the nation. The developments come as Europe overtook the US as the new coronavirus hotspot, with more than 27,000 new cases having been reported across the 27 EU member states plus the UK, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein last Wednesday. The United States nonetheless remains the hardest-hit single nation, recording 26,000 daily cases.

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