Coronavirus cases fall in UK as PM warns of ‘storm clouds’ of new wave in Europe

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Boris Johnson has warned that “storm clouds” of a new coronavirus wave are gathering over parts of Europe.

The comments come as many European countries are seeing an increase in coronavirus cases and preparing to step up Covid restrictions.

The Prime Minister was speaking on a visit to Sidcup on Friday, where voters will elect a new MP in December after the death of former minister James Brokenshire.

He said: “I am seeing the storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent.

“We have been here before and we remember what happens when a wave starts rolling in.

“The UK has built in a huge amount of protection thanks to the vaccine rollout and people’s willingness to come forward and get jabbed.

“The urgency of getting the booster jab is more evident than ever.”

He said there was no question that a wave of infection was coming across Eastern Europe.

Mr Johnson added: “We are seeing numbers rise in Germany very steeply.

“I am concerned about the Delta variant being passed between those who are vaccinated and indeed those who are double vaccinated.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches a man receiving a coronavirus vaccination at a pharmacy in Sidcup
Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches a man receiving a coronavirus vaccination at a pharmacy in Sidcup (Henry Nicholls/PA)

“It is absolutely vital, if we are going to continue in the way that we are, that people get their boosters when they are called forward.”

Analysis by the PA news agency of data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) looked at the seven-day rate of new reported cases, as of November 11.

It found that while the UK is still above most countries, it is not following the trend of other nations where rates are up week-on-week.

In Austria there are 766.2 cases per 100,000 people (up from 484.8 a week earlier), in the Netherlands there are 496.0, up from 334.7, and in the UK there are 362.6 cases per 100,000 people (down from 412.1).

In Germany there are 280.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 180.8, and in France 98.5, up from 64.7.

Portugal has 81.5 cases per 100,000 people (up from 57.5), Italy 78.4 (up from 52.8), and Spain 42.8 (up from 28.9).

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The World Health Organisation said coronavirus deaths rose by 10% in Europe in the past week, and last week an official declared that the continent was back at the epicentre of the pandemic.

Austria is considering imposing a lockdown on unvaccinated people, the Dutch government is reportedly considering a limited two-week lockdown and German lawmakers are considering legislation that would pave the way for new measures.

New data from the Office for National Statistics also suggests infection levels are continuing to fall across the UK.

The figures show that about one in 60 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to November 6, down from one in 50 the previous week.

In Wales, about one in 45 people is estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to November 6, down from one in 40 the previous week.

In Northern Ireland, the figure is about one in 75 people, down from one in 65 the previous week.

In Scotland it is one in 85, down from one in 80 the previous week.

Meanwhile, the i newspaper reported that the Government does not expect the pandemic to be over for at least another year, and that in a worst case scenario lockdowns could be needed until 2026.

It said officials are working to three scenarios of how the pandemic might play out – optimistic, middle and pessimistic.

The paper reported that the optimistic scenario would see the virus no longer considered a pandemic threat sometime between this year and 2023.

The middle case, which it said is seen as the most likely, would see it no longer considered a pandemic threat sometime between 2023 and 2024.

The worst case scenario, which could see tough restrictions needed until 2026, is thought to be highly unlikely as it would mean vaccines no longer working against new variants and anti-viral drugs failing.

Asked about the i’s report, a Government spokesperson said: “As a responsible Government, we prepare for all eventualities, regularly reviewing risk and contingency planning in light of the current situation and developments, and prioritising operations accordingly.

“This is necessary to identify and prepare for any potential risks which could emerge in the future”.

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