UK in lockdown as global Covid-19 deaths hit 17,000

By People Daily
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Staff line up at attention as they prepare to spray disinfectant at Wuhan Railway Station in China’s Hubei province, yesterday. Photo/AFP
In summary
    • Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have agreed to a one-year postponement of the event to the summer of 2021.
    • The Games were set to run from July 24 to August 9.

London, Tuesday

Britain late Monday ordered a three-week lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus, shutting “non-essential” shops and services, and banning gatherings of more than two people. 

“Stay at home,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a televised address to the nation, as he unveiled unprecedented peacetime measures after the country’s death toll climbed to 335. 

“From this evening (Monday) I must give the British people a very simple instruction—you must stay at home,” Johnson said.

“Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households.”

Across the planet, the coronavirus toll continued to mount, with close to 17,000 fatalities and almost 390,000 declared infections.

Under the new measures, Johnson said going out to shop for basic necessities was still allowed, as was exercise, medical needs, and travel to and from work. 

Britain’s leaders on Tuesday urged people to respect the lockdown, saying it would stop people dying of coronavirus.

Pandemic accelerating

But shops selling items such as clothes or electronics as well as libraries, playgrounds and places of worship would be shut, with the ban also extending to weddings and baptisms but not funerals.

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had warned Monday the pandemic was clearly accelerating, with the pace of infections much higher than when the outbreak first emerged in China in December.

Tedros acknowledged that many countries were struggling to take more aggressive measures because of a lack of resources. “We are not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

And in the US, anxiety ratcheted up across an eerily deserted New York, America’s coronavirus epicentre, but President Donald Trump said he’d soon call for lifting the lockdown in some parts of the country.

Trump—who faces reelection in November and is keen to avoid extended economic damage—told reporters he would be “opening up our country to business because our country was meant to be open.”

The relaxation could be announced early next week when a 15-day period recommending tight restrictions on social distancing expires, he said, stressing that governors would make final decisions in their own states.

China announced Tuesday an end to travel curbs in Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, even as governments around the world tightened lockdowns in a desperate effort to slow the spread.

The relaxation of rules, which will not apply to the hardest-hit city of Wuhan until April 8, comes as UK and New Zealand joined nations in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia in declaring countrywide shutdowns.

Italy has seen the number of daily fatalities come down from a world record 793 on Saturday to 651 on Sunday and 601 on Monday.

In Spain, another 514 people died over the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 2,696, as the number of infections surged towards 40,000.  -AFP and Agencies

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