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Leading UK scientist warns second national coronavirus lockdown possible

London: A second national coronavirus lockdown is a possibility in the face of worsening situation of the coronavirus pandemic, a leading British scientist warned on Sunday.

Peter Horby, chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a British government adviser, said Britain is at a “precarious point”.

The “critical mission” currently was to protect the National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed. We really need to provide care to everybody — those with COVID and those without,” he said in the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show program.

Horby warned that some hospitals in the north of England were already coming under pressure and intensive care beds might be filled up soon.

“I am afraid we are going to have to make some very difficult choices and act very quickly,” he added.

Earlier Sunday, Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said Britain has reached a “tipping point” in its epidemic, similar to that seen in March.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to outline a new three-tiered system of coronavirus restrictions on Monday as new COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, local media reported.

Johnson will reveal the full details of the much-anticipated approach in a statement to the House of Commons, or the lower house of the British parliament, according to the London-based Evening Standard newspaper.

The three tiers, known as Local COVID Alert Levels, are expected to be medium, high and very high. Under a very high alert, pubs and bars would have to shut, but not restaurants.

Another 15,166 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 590,844, according to official figures released Saturday.

The coronavirus-related deaths rose by 81 to 42,760, the latest data showed.

Meanwhile, to bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

The British government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance has said that it is possible that some vaccine could be available in small amounts later this year, but it is more likely that a vaccine will be available early next year, although that is not guaranteed.

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