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Europeans face prospect of 2nd lockdowns as COVID cases surge

U.K. says second national lockdown possible
U.K. warns a second national lockdown may be needed as COVID-19 cases rise 01:55

London — British officials said Monday that COVID-19 infection rates were heading "in the wrong direction." The warning came as governments across Europe re-impose tougher measures to try to stem new outbreaks of the coronavirus.

The U.K. government's chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Monday that the infection rates across Britain had, "in a bad sense, literally turned a corner."

Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance warned, meanwhile, that if nothing is done to curb the spread of the virus, new infections could rise to nearly 50,000 daily by mid-October — up from nearly 4,400 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.   

But that was a worst-case scenario, and authorities have already imposed tighter restrictions on vast swathes of northern England. People in many communities can no longer socialize with other households, and across England, most gatherings are now limited to six people.

Britain's Health Secretary has not ruled out a second national lockdown.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London
Commuters walk across London Bridge, with the iconic Tower Bridge seen in the background, during the morning rush hour amid an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, September 21, 2020. HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS

The virus has killed more people in the United Kingdom than any other country in Europe. But just as it was with the first wave, France is ahead of Britain in facing a resurgence of the virus. 

The head of a French medical workers' union has warned that hospitals are at a "tipping point." He said that while the current rate of new infections is not as high as the country's first wave in March, some hospitals have seen a big increase in coronavirus admissions.

Face masks were made mandatory in enclosed public spaces across France a couple weeks ago as the government tries to avoid ordering a new national lockdown.

Spain is also struggling with a second wave. In certain areas of Madrid, new restrictions were taking effect on Monday. Around 860,000 people will no longer be allowed to leave their neighborhoods except for work, study, or medical reasons.

Israel became the first country in the world to impose a second nation-wide lockdown last Friday. Its first lockdown was eased in May as new daily cases dropped to single-digits, but the infection rate has spiked in the past month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the British public in a televised address from his London residence on Tuesday. If there are new restrictions coming, we may hear about them then.

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