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UK due to extend lockdown ahead of deconfinement measures

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The British government is due to formally extend is lockdown on Thursday ahead of deconfinement measures expected to be announced this weekend.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is meeting with his top ministers after more than six weeks of containment, in force since 24 March and already extended once until Thursday.

However, the announcement of deconfinement measures will have to wait a few more days. Johnson has indicated that he will unveil his strategy for the future on Sunday.

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Johnson suggested on Wednesday that some restrictions could be relaxed as of 11 May, while repeating that he wanted to avoid a second wave of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic at all costs.

“The reality is we’re still at a high point of the virus. We believe we are past the peak, but we have to make sure we do not create a situation we can have a strong second peak very quickly,” echoed Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on BBC Radio 4. “We’re going to make sure we go forward in a way that actually puts people’s health first,” he added.

British media reported that citizens will soon be able to exercise unlimitedly outdoors, have picnics or even sunbathe in parks, as long as they keep a safe distance of two metres between people. People are currently only allowed to go out for groceries, medical treatment or exercise.

The economic and social consequences of confinement are considerable, with the Bank of England forecasting a historic 14% fall in Gross Domestic Product this year in the UK.

The government is also criticised for missing its target of over 100,000 screenings a day for several days in a row, a massive screening that is supposed to accompany its deconfinement strategy alongside a contact tracing application developed by the National Health Service.

Coronavirus has killed more than 30,000 people in the UK, the second most affected country in the world after the United States. If suspected deaths are counted, the country already exceeded 32,000 deaths at the end of April. 

As for Belgium, the country has counted 51,420 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 8,415 have died.

The Brussels Times

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