London, July 19: Staying upbeat over coronavirus-related conditions in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday compared imposing a nation-wide lockdown to pushing the nuclear button, one he hoped will not be needed in the future again.
Lockdown imposed in the UK on March 23 has been differentially relaxed in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, with more areas of public activity to be reopened in the near future. New cases have dwindled in recent days and weeks.
Johnson told the Sunday Telegraph in an interview that health officials were getting better at identifying and isolating local outbreaks, adding that the power to order national action will remain an option. Leicester in the east Midlands remains in lockdown.
He said: “I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again”.
Johnson’s optimism about improving conditions has led to reopening several sectors of the British economy that has taken a severe hit due to the pandemic. But top officials warn that another lockdown may be needed as the challenging winter months near.
Patrick Vallance, chief scientific officer, cautioned in a parliamentary hearing on Friday that relaxing measures would inevitably lead to new cases in the coming months, which could need another nation-wide lockdown.
He said: “As you release measures it is inevitable as you get more contacts that you will see more cases … Come winter, the challenges will be very much greater and of course there is a risk that this could need national measures”.
“Everyone that I’ve spoken to thinks it’s highly likely that this disease will continue to circulate and will come back in waves. And therefore the measures of reducing contact to reduce spread, the sorts of social distancing measures that we’ve talked about, and the hygiene measures that go along with that, will be necessary,” he added. (HT)