UK lockdown ends but R rate rises in London and coronavirus will get worse

By Asitha Jayawardena

On Friday 17 July 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson eased the lockdown measures gradually and, by Christmas, the social distancing rule can be hopefully discarded if the coronavirus epidemic would be under control. The people would stick to washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks.

However, R (reproduction) rate in London is beyond 1 while the lockdown – local version – in Leicester is on with other areas that are about to undergo restrictions. The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns the pandemic is not yet over and the highest of coronavirus infections happened on Saturday.

Coronavirus: Normality in the UK is by Christmas

Delivering the press briefing on Friday, Boris Johnson further eased the coronavirus lockdown and, if the virus is under control, the rule on social distancing would no longer be kept from November onwards and “significant return to normality” by Christmas. But he said all plans would remain conditional as the people would stick to guidelines and common sense in the long-term fight against Covid-19.

Local lockdowns: If the need arises for a local lockdown, Johnson gave power to local authorities in England on Saturday. They include closing specific premises, shutting outdoor spaces and canceling events. He said that ministers can intervene if councils are slow to act on local lockdowns. When justified by the evidence, they can give the local “stay at home” orders, prevent people entering or leaving defined areas, close whole sectors or types of premises in an area, reduce the maximum size of gatherings and restrict transport systems.

Work from home: The message “work from home” is dropped and employers would decide from 1 August. Johnson said: “Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.” He added that, for many employers, this could be working from home and which had worked for many employers and employees.

Public transport: Travelling in public transport is possible if we are wearing a facemask. Exemptions are there for under 11’s and some adults.

Leisure facilities: Leisure settings such as gyms and leisure centres will be open from midway the next week. Most other leisure settings including bowling arenas, skating rinks and casinos will be open from 1 August. Beauticians offering close-quarters treatments can restart business and wedding receptions will be allowed for up to 30 people. However, nightclubs and soft play areas will remain closed until further notice.

Outdoor sporting events: From October, audiences will be able to return to stadia for sports and performances. Moreover, conferences and other events can recommence but only they should be conducted in a Covid-safe way.

R rate is up and lockdown extended

In the meantime, R (reproduction) rate of coronavirus infection in London has increased. So is in Bristol. R rate is 1.1 in London and the south west and that is worrying.

If R rate is below 1, the epidemic is decreasing. If R rate is above 1, it is increasing. If R rate is three, each infected person would pass the infection to three other persons if no containment measures are introduced.

The lockdown in Leicester is on. Twenty other locations such as Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Barnsley and Rochdale are given the time to improve.

Outside the UK, easing the lockdown didn’t go well. Reimpose would be heard in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Australia.

WHO: Coronavirus is getting worse

Outside the UK, what is the situation?

“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, gave a warning in a virtual briefing from the U.N. agency’s headquarters in Geneva on 13 July. “If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go – it is going to get worse and worse and worse.”

The World Trade Organisation (WHO) warned that nearly 260,000 coronavirus cases identified on Saturday and the biggest increases were in the US (71,000 new cases), Brazil (45,000), India (34,000) and South Africa (13,000).

On Friday, total global coronavirus cases crossed 14 million while 600,000 people killed in this disease in seven months.

Number game in US, Brazil and India

Coronavirus of the worldometer website reports that three countries have now surpassed a million cases. They are the US with 3.8 million cases and 143,000 deaths, Brazil 2 million cases (79,000) and India 1 million cases (27,000).

In Europe, the UK tops the list with 45,000 deaths and is followed by Italy (35,000 deaths) and France (30,000 deaths).

Easing lockdown with difficulty

What Boris Johnson says is achievable if people follow the guidelines of handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks. If that is the case, the local lockdowns will control the virus if the second outbreak is due in Autumn in the UK.

Otherwise, what will happen, who knows?


‘Significant return to normality by Christmas’: Boris Johnson eases lockdown rules again

London’s R rate rises above one as lockdown eases

Coronavirus: WHO reports record increase in global cases for second day in a row



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