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Expert refuses to rule out another UK lockdown before Christmas

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A British infectious disease expert said Sunday that he “can’t be certain” that the United Kingdom won’t need to lock down again before Christmas — saying it’s going to be a “difficult summer” battling new COVID-19 cases.

Neil Ferguson, a professor from Imperial College London, refused to rule out that the country won’t need to reimpose the same COVID-19 restrictions set to be lifted Monday.

“It’s going to be a difficult summer for many reasons… I think case numbers are likely to be declining at least by late September, even in the worst-case scenario,” Ferguson told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show.

But Ferguson said there may be “a need to slow the spread to some extent” if there’s a high number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients.

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“Clearly, if we end up in a more, let’s say, worst-case scenario … at the higher end of the modeling and the projections of two, three thousand hospital admissions per day, there may be a need to basically slow spread to some extent,” he said.

Asked if there could be another lockdown before Christmas, Ferguson said that it was a “harder” prediction to make.

“I hope not, but I can’t be certain,” Ferguson told the show.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lift almost all of England’s COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, including scrapping mask mandates and allowing nightclubs to reopen.

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The decision comes despite cases being on the rise with more than 54,000 new infections confirmed Saturday in the United Kingdom — the highest since January.

Johnson has faced backlash after he initially opted not to self-isolate after coming into contact Friday with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for COVID-19 the following day.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lift almost all of England’s COVID-19 restrictions on July 19.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Both Johnson and Treasury chief Rishi Sunak were alerted overnight by England’s test-and-trace phone app.

Johnson’s office said that he and Sunak would take a daily coronavirus test as part of an alternative system on trial in some workplaces, but reversed course less than three hours later.

Both will now self-isolate for 10 days, with Johnson bunkering down at Chequers, his country residence.

“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak tried to fix the rules yet again to benefit themselves. They only backtracked when they got found out,” Labour party leader Keir Starmer said, the Mirror reported.

“They’re like failed bank robbers who only offered to give the money back because they’ve been caught.”

With Post wires

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