UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsons plan to ease COVID-19 lockdown measures has come under increased criticism as the country has crossed the grim milestone of 40,000 coronavirus deaths.
With 40,344 deaths, the UK currently accounts for the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities in Europe and the second highest in the world.
The country has registered a total of 284,734 COVID-19, which is the fourth highest in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Under pressure to resume economic activity, Johnson decided to reopen elementary schools in England this week and is expected to allow non-essential businesses to resume within 10 days, despite warnings from a number of experts that it was too soon to ease the lockdown, reports Efe news.
His roadmap suffered another setback on Friday when it became apparent that the transmission rate in England was higher than in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have refused to follow London’s strategy.
The infection rate in London is around R0.95, meaning a person infects 0.95 other people on average.
The government acknowledged that some areas northern and southern England could see their transmission rates grow.
A study conducted by the University of Cambridge found that the transmission rate in Manchester and Liverpool could be above R1.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Friday said the government would consider isolated lockdowns in the case of a second wave of infections.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of active cases had halved in the last two weeks of May.
Around 100 scientists penned an open letter in the Telegraph newspaper urging the government to reconsider its lockdown plans.
“We are still in a situation where there is substantial community transmission, and most estimates of the reproduction number of the virus place it only just below one.
“If this number exceeds one, we will experience exponential growth in the number of cases and deaths once again,” the letter said.