“I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all,” he said, but added: “When you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further.”
New COVID-19 regulations will be imposed on the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire from Tuesday.
European nations from Denmark and Iceland in the north to Greece in the south have announced new restrictions to curb surging coronavirus infections in some of their largest cities, and England was reported to be considering a new national lockdown.
Infections have climbed steadily across most of Europe over the last two months. Intensive care admissions and deaths have also begun to tick up, especially in Spain and France.
In Spain, which has seen more cases than any other European country, the region including the Spanish capital Madrid will limit movement between and within areas badly affected by a new surge in infections, affecting more than 850,000 people.
Regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso said on Friday that access to parks and public areas would be restricted, and gatherings will be limited to six, but people would not be stopped from going to work in the country’s hardest-hit region.
“We need to avoid lockdown, we need to avoid economic disaster,” Ayuso told a news conference.
Authorities in the southern French city of Nice banned gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and restricted bar opening hours, following fresh curbs introduced earlier this week in Marseille and Bordeaux.
France on Thursday registered almost 10,600 new infections, its highest daily count since the start of the pandemic.
In Denmark, where the 454 new infections on Friday was close to a record of 473 in April, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the limit on public gatherings would be lowered to 50 people from 100 and ordered bars and restaurants to close early.
Iceland ordered entertainment venues and pubs in the capital area to close for four days between September 18-21.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his government was preparing “regional” measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak after the Netherlands registered a record 1972 cases in the past 24 hours.
The measures will be detailed later on Friday and are expected to include tighter restrictions on public gatherings and earlier closing times for bars and restaurants. Hotspots include major cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
In Greece, which emerged largely unscathed from the first wave of COVID-19 which hit Europe in March and April, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government was ready to tighten restrictions in the greater Athens area as cases accelerated.
Mitsotakis said Greece’s committee of health experts had recommended extra curbs on public gatherings, the suspension of cultural events for 14 days and other measures which “could be decided today … and go into force on Monday.”
Europe is still hoping not to follow the example of Israel, which entered a second nationwide lockdown on Friday at the onset of the Jewish high-holiday season, following a jump in new coronavirus cases.
Coronavirus cases in India hit 5.2 million
India ordered its states not to hoard oxygen supplies and allow free movement amidst reports of shortages, as novel coronavirus infections hit 5.2 million on Friday, edging the country’s tally closer to the United States, which is the worst-hit globally.
India, which recorded 96,424 new infections in the last 24 hours, has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August, according to a Reuters tally.
Oxygen supply has become scarce in some parts of India, government officials and experts said, putting critical healthcare at risk.
“Any impediment in the supplies of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 disease,” the federal home ministry said in a circular late on Friday.
“There shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restriction of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without restriction,” it said.
Deaths in India have been relatively low, and it has a fatality rate of 1.62 per cent. On Friday, the health ministry said 1174 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking total deaths from the disease to 84,372.
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