Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock was forced to respond to a barrage of questions regarding the possibility of a second nation-wide lockdown in the country, reported Sky News.
As the minister acknowledged on Friday that there had been a steady rise in new coronavirus cases registered across the country, with hospital admissions doubling every eight days, he claimed that a lockdown was a last resort. He added that the government was committed to doing everything possible to tackle the virus.
"The number of people in hospital is doubling every eight days or so ... we will do what it takes to keep people safe… We keep these things under review," said the minister.
When asked about a second lockdown, he acknowledged that it was the “last line of defence", adding:
"I can't give you that answer now."
This comes as on Thursday the health minister announced new coronavirus restrictions on entertainment venues in England's north-east as of Friday amid a concerning rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“We do have to recognise that the number of cases is rising and we do have to act.”— SkyNews (@SkyNews) September 18, 2020
Health Secretary @MattHancock explains that the approach the government takes is to minimise deaths and “protect people’s livelihoods".#KayBurley: https://t.co/Opc8Z4tNib pic.twitter.com/yiVN71B47z
There will be a 10 pm curfew for hospitality businesses; food and drink venues in the areas shall be restricted to table service only, with a ban on people from different households socialising.
"From tomorrow, in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham, residents should not socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble," said Hancock.
According to data unveiled by the government, coronavirus cases across the UK have increased by 3,991, taking the total to 378,219.
As the UK’s Test and Trace struggles to cope with surging demand, Hancock urged people to avoid burdening the system and skip taking a test unless they have symptoms.
The UK government has pledged efforts to deliver 500,000 coronavirus tests per day as part of its drive to contain the spread of the disease while allowing the country to reboot from the previous lockdown measures.
The country’s test and trace system has been inundated, with data showing just one in three people in England are able to obtain the results of their tests within 24 hours.
Reports have even suggested the government was considering rationing coronavirus testing in line with a prioritisation list giving pride of place to hospital patients, care homes, key workers and schools.
There have also been reports that far too many people were seeking tests despite not displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
Threat of Resurgence
At the end of August Matt Hancock had unleashed a torrent of criticism by telling The Times in an interview that England stood a serious chance of facing new nationwide coronavirus-induced restrictions and extensive local lockdowns in the event of a second wave of COVID-19 this winter.
He pointed to other countries already battling a resurgence of the COVID-19, depicting the “threat” as “very serious”.
The United Kingdom currently has 3,991 new registered coronavirus cases, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) situation report, with the total number of confirmed cases at 378, 223.