ENGLAND could be heading for a post-Christmas lockdown as Covid cases continue to rise and hospital admissions reach their first wave peak.
Boris Johnson today refused to rule out a third national lockdown after Christmas – and warned that the Covid infection rate was growing.
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The PM said he "hoped" that England would not have to shut down once again – after Northern Ireland joined Wales in saying it would shut down from Boxing Day onwards.
These are five signs that England could join other nations in shutting down after the festive season.
The Office of National Statistics has estimated that around 567,300 people in England had Covid-19 last week compared to 481,500 the previous week.
Britain's R rate has risen this week as cases of the coronavirus continue to increase across the country.
The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid on to – is now estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2.
This is up from last week from week when Sage experts estimated that the rate was between 0.9 and 1.
The R rate must be kept below 1 to cause the outbreak to shrink. Above 1, and cases will continue to rise.
The coronavirus' natural R rate is around 3. But it can be squashed by cutting back on social contact.
People below 60 – who are the least vulnerable to Covid – have some of the highest increases in infections since the last lockdown ended.
In the summer, an increase in cases among young people meant there was a later spike in infections in elderly people – who are most vulnerable.
Over Christmas, an increase in cases for young people means there is a high likelihood that the bug will spread to their older relatives as families get together.
More areas are now having surges in coronavirus cases.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave a gloomy update in the first review of the tiered system yesterday, announcing that around five million more people will be in Tier 3 as of 12.01am on Saturday.
Around 38million people will be in the highest level of lockdown rules, totaling more than two-thirds of the population.
In the South East of England, cases are up 46 per cent in the last week alone.
The pressure is increasing on the NHS as cases continue to rise.
There are now more than 18,000 people being treated in hospital for Covid.
This figure is just under the peak in April near the beginning of the pandemic, which was 21,683.
Hospital admissions are continuing to rise. Last week, they were at 16,366.
Operations have had to be cancelled, and hospitals had to divert ambulance crews to different facilities 44 times last week – the most since 2016.
Countries across Europe have been forced to shut down for the festive period to stop a winter surge of coronavirus.
Germany has been sent into a hard lockdown, with non-essential shops and beauty salons forced to close from tomorrow until at least January 10.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte forced the Netherlands into another tough lockdown, after new coronavirus cases jumped by 40 per cent.
Italians will not be allowed to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve this year and people must be home in time for the 10pm curfew.
France has lifted the six-week ban on travelling around the country, but President Emmanual Macron imposed a harsh 8pm to 6am curfew for every night from now until mid-January.
Only 10 people will be able to reunite for Christmas and New Year in Spain, while
People living in Moscow over the age of 65 or those in high-risk must self-isolate until January 15.
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