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UK

Johnson to make statement to parliament on COVID-19 restrictions

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (not pictured) in Downing Street in London, Britain October 8, 2020. Aaron Chown/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement to parliament on Monday about potential new lockdown restrictions, as the government seeks to tackle a rapidly accelerating second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.

The average daily number of COVID-19 cases in England has doubled in a week, a survey showed on Friday, but the government is facing growing opposition to lockdown measures which have wrought some of the worst economic damage in at least a century.

“The rising incidence in parts of the country mean that it is very likely that certain local areas will face further restrictions,” Edward Lister, a senior aide to the prime minister, said in a letter to lawmakers. “The government is hoping to finalise these details as soon as possible. This pace is imperative if we are to control the spread of the virus.”

The United Kingdom already has the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe - 42,679 - while it is borrowing record amounts to pump emergency money through the damaged economy.

As Johnson grapples with both COVID-19 and dissent in party ranks, the economic damage was laid bare on Friday. Gross domestic product rose in August by 2.1% from July, official data showed, not even half the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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