Britain’s health secretary warns of ‘serious problem’ as new infections and hospitalizations rise

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finishes making a statement on his first day back at work in Downing Street, London, after recovering from a bout with the coronavirus that put him in intensive care, Monday, April 27, 2020. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON ­— Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted Tuesday that Britain faces a “very serious problem” as daily hospital admissions of coronavirus patients in England rose by almost 25 percent and new infections continue to increase.

“It is a challenge, and everybody will have seen, from the rising case rates and unfortunately the rising hospitalization rates which have risen really quite sharply in the last week or so, that we have got a very serious problem on our hands,” Hancock said Wednesday.

Hancock added the government is seeking to control the second outbreak “in a way that has as little damage as possible,” as different areas across the country continue to face local lockdown measures.

Data reveal 478 people were hospitalized on Sunday — England’s highest daily figure since June 3 — up from 386 people admitted the day before.

The figures have sparked concern in Britain, which remains the worst-hit country in Europe, with more than 42,500 lives lost to the virus and over half a million confirmed cases.

John Edmunds, who advises the government’s coronavirus response, said “really critical action” with “much more stringent measures” was needed to slow the spread of infection.

Meanwhile, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, which distributes test kits and other essential health items across England, said Tuesday that a supply-chain issue has caused a “significant drop” in its production of test kits, threatening the country’s testing system.

“We deeply regret that there has been a delay in the dispatch of some products,” the company said, adding it was working to fix the problem, which was triggered by a move to a new warehouse.

The government has long faced criticism for its handling of the pandemic, especially its testing system.

Officials admitted this week that a computer system failure had “lost” almost 16,000 new coronavirus cases in England, a technical error that meant an estimated 50,000 people were delayed in finding out they had been in contact with someone who tested positive.

The Washington Post

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