Government responds to rumours health chief wants 'two-week national lockdown’

The Government is not considering a two-week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, says a health minister.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 1:46 pm

Edward Argar moved to calm concerns following reports that the country faces another complete shutdown as infection rates spiral.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “It is not something I have seen within the department.

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Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

“The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. He doesn’t want to see another national lockdown. He wants to see people abiding by the regulations and making the local lockdowns work.”

Fears of a national lockdown were sparked following a tweet by former World Health Organisation (WHO) expert Professor Anthony Costello, who is now director of University College London’s Institute for Global Health.

He tweeted: “I’m hearing from a well-connected person that government now thinks, in absence of testing, there are 38,000 infections per day. Chris Whitty is advising PM for a two week national lockdown.”

He later deleted that message and tweeted: “Please note that Chris Whitty has indirectly informed me that this is not his view so I am happy to correct this statement/tweet.”

Further lockdowns are expected to be announced in north east England, with Mr Argar saying the region was seeing a spike in cases similar to that in the north west.

“In the north east we are seeing a spike in infections. It is exactly what we have seen in the north west. We monitor that rate. Where we need to, we step in and take action,” he said.

Mr Argar added that the rise in the north west had been partly driven by people not adhering to social distancing requirements.