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Boris Johnson to announce post-lockdown coronavirus plan

Credit: Belga

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will detail on Monday his plan for local restrictions against the coronavirus, which will replace the lockdown in England at the beginning of December and will be based on the deployment of mass screening.

“The rise in new cases is flattening off,” Johnson said in a statement. “But we are not out of the woods yet.”

However, “with the expansion in testing and vaccines edging closer to deployment, the regional tiered system will help get the virus back under control and keep it there.”

According to media reports, Johnson will announce the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants from 3 December, boosting the economy, which has been severely weakened by the pandemic, during the generally economically busy period leading up to Christmas.

Restrictions are expected to be eased for a few days over Christmas and discussions are underway between the government and the authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a unified approach, with each British region normally deciding its own health strategy.

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In England, the local restrictions plan, approved on Sunday, will continue with the same levels of restrictions as before the four-week lockdown started on 5 November. More areas will be placed in a higher, stricter level, however.

The plan will reportedly be accompanied by a massive and rapid screening programme for populations in areas classified as very high-risk, following the example of the experiment carried out “successfully” in Liverpool, where more than 200,000 people have been tested since the beginning of November, the government said in the press release.

Eventually, people who come into contact with a positive case will also be able to be tested regularly, allowing them to escape the currently mandatory 14-day isolation period.

A pilot project will be launched next week in Liverpool and, if successful, will be extended to carers in December and then to the rest of the country in January.

The UK, the European country most affected by the pandemic, has seen more than 55,000 deaths of people testing positive for the new coronavirus and more than 1.5 million positive cases.

Belgium, for comparison, counted 558,779 confirmed cases and 15,618 deaths as of Monday.

The Brussels Times

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