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Scientists have suggested a “circuit-breaker” lockdown could save thousands of lives by the end of the year as the country enters the troublesome winter period. The Prime Minister is facing calls to go further than his three-tier alert system by introducing a fortnight of nationwide measures to bring the coronavirus resurgence under control. Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer is also ramping up the pressure to introduce two to three-week national lockdown over the October half term to prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”.
A paper by members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has calculated some 7,000 lives could be saved if schools are shut and people told to stay at home for a fortnight from October 24.
The modelling reveals coronavirus deaths for the remainder of this year could fall to 12,100 from 19,900, with hospitalisations halving to 66,500 from 132,400.
Sir Keir used Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday to lash out at the Government’s handling of the pandemic and again call for a new lockdown approach.
But Express.co.uk readers have thrown their support behind Mr Johnson, rejecting calls for a two-to-three week “circuit breaker” move.
The poll, which ran from 9.30am until 9.30pm on Wednesday October 14, asked: “Should Boris give in to Labour demands and call a two-week nationwide lockdown?”
More than three-quarters (76 percent or 2,661 readers) said the Prime Minister should not bow to increasing lockdown demands made by Labour.
Just under a quarter (23 percent or 802 readers) disagreed, while less than one percent (33 readers) were undecided.
One Express.co.uk reader said: “No more lockdowns of any kind, no masks, no mandatory vaccines.
“This used to be a free country and many of us want our freedom back!”
A second person commented: “Ridiculous idea! When the two weeks end, people will have street parties and start the whole process off again.”
Another Express.co.uk reader wrote: “Careful what you wish for.
“It wont be ‘just two weeks’ it’ll be two weeks then extend another two weeks and repeat until public start rioting.”
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Several other people directed their anger towards Labour and in particular, Sir Keir Starmer.
One said: “Labour are not in Government and although they might have ideas that differ the ultimate decision rests as it should be with those we elected to run the country.”
A second reader wrote: “Starmer is just doing what he does best being a political operationist who normally sits on the fence.
“When he thinks he sees a political opportunity, he jumps just like now, and just like his predecessor makes the wrong choice.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson and Sir Keir went head-to-head in a furious clash during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
Mr Johnson has faced a barrage of criticism over the new three-tier lockdown system, with some leading politicians warning it does not go far enough, while local leaders have warned being placed into the highest tier could destroy jobs and the economy there.
Tensions quickly surged during this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions when Sir Keir backed the Government’s scientific advisory panel Sage’s call for a short national lockdown.
The Labour leader said that since the Sage advice was given on September 21, “the infection rate has quadrupled, hospital admissions have gone from 275 a day to 628 a day in England, yesterday 441 COVID patients were on ventilators and the number of deaths recorded was – tragically – the highest since June 10”.
Sir Keir said: “On September 21, the Government’s own scientific advisers, Sage, gave very clear advice – they said ‘a package of interventions including a circuit-breaker will be needed to prevent an exponential rise in cases’.
“Why did the Prime Minister reject that advice and abandon the science?”
The Labour leader also said a circuit-break is in the “national interest”, adding: “We are at a tipping point, time is running out, maybe he can seize the moment and answer a question – this morning the Telegraph quotes senior Government sources saying the chances of the Prime Minister backing a circuit-break in the next two weeks are about 80 percent.
“Is that right? And if it is, why doesn’t he do it now, save lives, fix testing and protect the NHS?”
Mr Johnson insisted he would “rule out nothing” in the fight against coronavirus but told Sir Keir and other MPs in the Commons he would be sticking to his localised approach.
The Prime Minister said: “The whole point is to seize this moment now to avoid the misery of another national lockdown.
“We’re going to do it – and I rule out nothing, of course, in combating the virus – but we are going to do it with the local, the regional, approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said his party also backs the circuit-breaker lockdown proposal and warned “otherwise the cost to lives and livelihoods as well as to jobs in our communities may be too harsh to bear”.
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