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UK experts warn coronavirus is out of control

Cases and hospital admissions rise despite restrictions on social gatherings

LONDON: British health experts admitted on Wednesday that the coronavirus was out of control as case numbers and hospital admissions kept rising despite a slew of new restrictions on social gatherings.

"Things are definitely heading in the wrong direction," UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told a government press conference, as a further 7,108 cases and 71 deaths were reported.

As England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned that hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care were also rising, Mr Vallance added: "We don't have this under control at the moment."

There was a 61 per cent increase in cases in England's latest weekly data, with more than four times the number of cases recorded as there were at the end of August, the health service's test and trace scheme said yesterday.

"31,373 people tested positive for coronavirus for the first time in England between 17 Sept and 23 Sept, a 61 per cent increase compared to the previous week," it said in its report.

More than 42,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Britain, the worst toll in Europe, despite a nationwide stay-at-home order imposed in late March.

The lockdown was eased in June but authorities have in recent weeks reimposed restrictions on social gatherings, including a ban on groups of more than six and early closing for pubs.

Standing alongside Mr Vallance and Prof Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "still too early to tell" if these would have an effect and urged people to follow the rules.

"If we put in the work together now then we give ourselves the best possible chance of avoiding that outcome and avoiding further measures," he said.

Health minister Matt Hancock introduced more coronavirus restrictions yesterday across a wider area of England, including the northern city of Liverpool, to try to stem rising Covid-19 cases. - AFP, REUTERS

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