Lockdown looms in the UK as Europe braces for a significant spike in coronavirus infections in the run-up to Christmas

  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce national lockdown restrictions next week.
  • Johnson has succumbed to the advice of his science experts, hoping that the national measures could "save Christmas from the coronavirus." 
  • European countries including Germany, France, and Belgium all reported record numbers of new daily infections this week.
  • Most European countries have either reimposed partial or full lockdowns again, with France going back to measures that were imposed during the first lockdown in March.
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce national lockdown restrictions next week as Europe sees a worrying spike in coronavirus deaths and infections.

The prime minister had been determined to avoid a national lockdown but has reportedly succumbed to the pressure of his scientific advisers. They argued that local measures would not be enough to clamp down on rising cases and that the virus could kill 85,000 people this winter. 

Although it is still unclear what precisely the measures will be, scientists and experts hope that the national measures could "save Christmas from the coronavirus," the Guardian reported.

The UK recorded 24,405 positive tests on Friday and 274 deaths, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University. Official figures also showed that more than half a million people were estimated to have had coronavirus in the week ending October 23.

Johnson has been warned of the potential of a "massive spike" on Christmas Eve according to one projection that his government was shown, reported The Times.

If the new restrictions go ahead, Johnson will become the latest leader to impose new measures to clamp down on COVID-19 cases that are spiking not only in the UK but also in Europe.

In the last two weeks, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Sweden all reported record numbers of new daily infections.

France reported 49,215 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, compared with 47,637 on Thursday. The death tally went up by 256 over 24 hours to 36,565.

On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said the country would "brutally apply the brakes" from Friday, introducing some of Europe's strictest coronavirus measures. They will run until at least December 1. 

According to the new rules, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to buy essential goods, medical reasons, and exercise for an hour a day. Anyone leaving their house must fill in a form to justify their reasoning, as was required during the first lockdown in March.

Belgium also went on a partial lockdown on Friday after The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said this week that the country had the highest number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people in Europe.

On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the "pressure on our hospitals is huge," according to the BBC.

"These are last-chance measures if we want to get the figures down," he added.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of a "long and hard winter" as Germany also announced a partial lockdown this week, according to the BBC.

Although shops will remain open for delivery, gyms, theaters, and cinemas will close and 

The country set a record for new daily coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, reporting 19,059 infections — up from its highest daily increase of 18,681, set the day before. 

It also recorded 103 more COVID-19 deaths, with its total death tally rising to 10,452 on Saturday.

Coronavirus infections in Italy rose by 31,084 on Friday, a jump of over 4,000 in a day, while 199 more fatalities were recorded.

The country has also been struggling with hospital admissions, which have increased by over 1,000 in a day, according to the Guardian.

Sweden, which made headlines for its unconventional lockdown approach at the start of the pandemic, registered a new peak of 1,980 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the US also appears to have set a daily record for new infections on Friday, reporting nearly 90,000 new infections.

It has officially passed the 9 million case mark, the highest in the world.

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