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Rising Covid-19 infections in UK prompt halt to lockdown easing

New evidence of coronavirus infections rising again in parts of the UK on Friday prompted cancelling plans to allow weddings and reopen several aspects of public life from August 1, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisting: “We simply cannot take the risk”.

Addressing a briefing from Downing Street, Johnson noted figures released by the Office for National Statistics of an increase in the number of people in England testing positive on a nose and throat swab in recent weeks.

The figures show that about 1 in 1,500 people in homes in England are infected (roughly 36,000 people in total) with 4,200 new infections each day; the figures are up on last week, when it was estimated there were 2,800 new infections each day and that one in 2,000 people (28,000 total) were infected in homes in England.

Johnson also noted that infections are rising across Europe, which would likely lead to a rise in the UK. Plans to hold pilot sports events, including cricket, when a limited number of spectators were to be allowed in the next few days, have also been cancelled, but Johnson insisted it does not amount to a “return to lockdown”.

Health officials announced a return of restrictions on people mixing with other households in north England, including the Greater Manchester area, Pendle, Hyndburn, Burnley, Rossendale, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leicester city,

Muslim organised criticised lack of notice while re-imposing the restrictions before Eid celebrations.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We’re constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we’ve seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England”.

“The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas”.

“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of coronavirus across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe”.

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