LONDON: On Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the nation to expect tighter controls to curb spiralling cases of coronavirus, as a row flared over whether schools should reopen.
“In the next few weeks, we may have to do things that will be tougher in many parts of the country,” Johnson told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“I’m completely, completely reconciled to that.” On Saturday, Britain reported 57,725 new infections, the highest number of the whole pandemic, with a new strain of the virus tearing through the country.
Health authorities are worried that at their busiest time of the year, the surging figures could overload hospitals.
Labour opposition leader Keir Starmer urged the prime minister to implement national lockout measures immediately.
“It’s not good that the prime minister suggests that there are additional restrictions in a week or two or three,” he said to the British media, adding that the outbreak was “clearly out of control.”
So I say now put in some controls, national restrictions over the next 24 hours.” Much of Britain is already under strict regional rules to prevent the spread, although when the Christmas holiday ends on Monday, primary schools are set to reopen in most of the country.”
However, after the government revealed primary schools in London, where case numbers are especially high, will stay closed, about one million four to 11 year-olds will study remotely.
Johnson advised parents elsewhere that as term starts, they should “absolutely” take their little kids to kindergarten.
I know the frustrations of people, I know the anxieties of people, but there is no question in my mind that schools are secure and that education is a priority.
“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve really fought very hard across the country to keep schools open,” he said.
But on Sunday, Jerry Glazier, National Executive Member of the National Education Union, said that “schools are now playing a major role in the spread of the infection” and called for the closing of all of them for at least two weeks.
“Schools are unsafe for children and unsafe for workers in the education sector,” he said. “Many educators are very anxious to return to the workplace.” Johnson added that the long-term health and social costs of children being left out of school have been highlighted by public health experts. “In left-behind communities, there are many factors you have to take into account, especially deprivation,” he said to Marr.