Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown under fire as UK marks 40,000 dead

London, Jun 5 (efe-epa).- The coronavirus strategy taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in the United Kingdom is coming under increased criticism as the country on Friday reached the grisly milestone of 40,000 Covid-19 deaths.

The UK is Europe’s worst-hit nation and has recently registered more deaths a single day than much of the European Union combined.

Health authorities on Friday confirmed that coronavirus deaths had reached 40,261 since the outbreak began. Back in March, the government’s chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance said limiting the number of fatalities to 20,000 would be a “good result.”

Under pressure to resume economic activity, Johnson decided to reopen elementary schools in England this week and is expected to allow non-essential businesses to resume within 10 days, despite warnings from a number of experts that it was too soon to ease the lockdown.

His roadmap suffered another setback on Friday when it became apparent that the transmission rate in England was higher than in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have refused to follow London’s strategy.

The infection rate in London is around R0.95, meaning a person infects 0.95 other people on average. The government acknowledged that some areas northern and southern England could see their transmission rates grow.

A study conducted by the University of Cambridge found that the transmission rate in Manchester and Liverpool could be above R1.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Friday said the government would consider isolated lockdowns in the case of a second wave of infections.

Health authorities said they had detected another 1,650 case in the last 24 hours.

Added to this was a tally of 357 fatalities between Thursday and Friday.

The Office for National Statistics said the number of active cases had halved in the last two weeks of May.

Around 100 scientists penned an open letter in the Telegraph newspaper urging the government to reconsider its lockdown plans.

“We are still in a situation where there is substantial community transmission, and most estimates of the reproduction number of the virus place it only just below one. If this number exceeds one, we will experience exponential growth in the number of cases and deaths once again,” the letter said. EFE-EPA


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