LONDON – The United Kingdom has reintroduced new coronavirus restrictions in parts of northern England amid a surge in cases that are also occurring in Europe and Asia, causing fears of a second wave.
“I am worried about the second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe, “British Health Minister Matt Hancock told British operator Sky News, which, like NBC News, is owned by Comcast Corp.
The UK reported 846 new positive cases on Thursday – the highest number of daily infections since June 28.
More than 4 million people in Greater Manchester, the largest urban area in the North of England and other parts of the region, are once again under severe blockade measures. They were ordered not to mix with other households, although they could still go to the pub and work.
“The problem with this virus is that it thrives on social contact that makes life worth living,” Hancock told Sky. “I fully understand the human impact of this, but unfortunately, that’s how the virus is transmitted.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that plans to restore high-risk public spaces – such as casinos, theaters and sports venues – would be postponed to at least August 15th on August 1st.
“I said our plan to open up society and the economy is conditional,” Johnson told a news conference. “As these numbers increase, our assessment is that we must now press that breaking pedal … to keep the virus under control.”
The requirement to wear face coatings in stores will be extended to other public places such as museums and cinemas, he said.
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has exceeded 17.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 673,000 people died.
Across Europe, Germany reported 902 new cases on Thursday – an increase in the Robert Koch Institute, which tracks the country’s data called “for”. Another 870 cases were reported on Friday.
At least one of the outbreaks in the country is related to agricultural workers in the Bavarian district of Dingolfing-Landau, forcing a company to quarantine its employees, the institute said.
Germany, meanwhile, has also joined Britain in enforcing stricter travel rules for people arriving from parts of Spain.
The UK’s move to require passengers from Spain to quarantine for 14 days was announced last weekend with immediate effect, after the country reported a number of outbreaks, which led to chaos for the British there on vacation.
On Thursday, the Spanish Ministry of Health reported the biggest daily jump in new cases, as the blockade ended with more than 1,000 new infections for the second day in a row.
By comparison, the United States saw an increase of approximately 58,000 confirmed cases in 24 hours between Thursday and Friday, according to NBC News.
There are also spines in coronavirus cases throughout Asia.
In Japan, 463 new cases were registered in the capital, Tokyo, on Friday, with 367 new cases reported the day before.
The city government is currently asking restaurants and bars to reduce their opening hours until August to limit distribution. A system of stickers has also been introduced to highlight restaurants and shops that are safe for the public to enter.
“Our lives have changed. Our way of life has changed. So our behavior needs to change,” said Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
Koike warned that if the situation worsens, it could call for a regional state of emergency, although this will not be as restrictive as previous measures to continue the economy.
Vietnam’s health ministry reported its highest daily growth since the cases first surfaced in January with 45 new infections confirmed on Friday. This threatens the country’s impressive results in virus content.
No deaths from coronavirus have been reported in Vietnam, and before the virus re-spread this week, the country had registered 100 days without a case transmitted locally.
Hong Kong announced another 3,151 new cases on Friday. Following warnings from CEO Kerry Lam earlier this week that the area was on the verge of a major outbreak.
The area was initially praised for weathering the first two waves of the pandemic. A wave of cases that began earlier this month has sparked new restrictions, including mandatory masks both indoors and outdoors.
The United States remains the hardest hit country with nearly 4.4 million cases and more than 150,000 deaths, according to NBC News.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Andy Eckard, My Nishiyama and Reuters contributed.