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World News

Britain is at a coronavirus tipping point, says deputy chief medical officer

FILE PHOTO: A guidance sign is pictured following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is at a “tipping point” in the coronavirus crisis and the country must act now to stop history repeating itself, the deputy chief medical officer for England said on Sunday, urging people to follow the rules.

With the number of cases rapidly rising particularly in the north of England, ministers are readying a new set of rules to try to tackle the crisis that will include handing more power to local leaders to track the virus’ spread.

Jonathan Van Tam said in an opinion article that the spread of COVID-19 was now moving from younger adult age groups to older people in the worst affected areas, and “just as night follow day, increases in deaths will now follow”.

“In our national fight against COVID-19, we are at a tipping point similar to where we were in March; but we can prevent history repeating itself if we all act now,” Van Tam said.

“We are in the middle of a severe pandemic and the seasons are against us. Basically, we are running into a headwind ... The principles for how we keep transmission low have not changed,” he said, repeating the message for people to wash their hands, wear face coverings and reduce social contact.

Britain, which has one of the highest death rates from coronavirus in Europe, is seeing cases take off since the government began re-opening the economy, schools and universities.

Wanting to balance protecting lives and livelihoods, the government has adopted a strategy of using local lockdowns to try to contain the virus, but its critics say there has been little evidence that this approach is working.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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