LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but warned that the country faces a “bumpy” winter ahead.
Britain has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll, at more than 42,000, and Johnson’s Conservative government is facing criticism from all sides. Opponents say tougher social restrictions are needed to suppress a second pandemic wave, but many in Johnson’s own right-of-center party argue that restrictions must be eased to save the economy.
Johnson told the BBC that the government had to strike a difficult balance and he couldn’t “take a course that could expose us to tens of thousands more deaths in very short order.”
Johnson expressed hope that progress on vaccines and testing would “change the scientific equation” in the next few months, allowing a return to normality.
But he said “it’s going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas. It may even be bumpy beyond.”
Britain on Saturday reported a record 12,872 new coronavirus infections, by far the highest daily total since the outbreak began, though the figure included a backlog of previously unreported cases.
UK sees highest daily total since outbreak start
Britain has recorded 12,872 new coronavirus infections, by far the highest daily total since the outbreak began, though the figure includes a backlog of previously unreported cases.
The government says the figure includes an unspecified number of deaths over the past week that have not been reported because of a now-resolved “technical issue.”
Saturday’s total is more than 5,000 cases more than the previous high, recorded earlier this week.
Britain is seeing a second spike in coronavirus cases, though the daily number can’t directly be compared to the outbreak’s U.K. peak in April because many more tests are now being performed now.
The number of hospitalizations and deaths is also rising but remains far below the U.K.’s springtime peak. Another 49 COVID-19 deaths were reported on Saturday. Britain’s official coronavirus death toll is 42,317.
The government has imposed restrictions on social gatherings to try and curb the spread of the virus, and almost a third of the country’s population of 66 million is under tighter local lockdown measures.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.