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Britain Contemplates Second National Lockdown as COVID-19 Surges

A street ranger and a police community support officer patrol Northumberland Street amid the spread of the coronavirus disease, in Newcastle, Britain, Sept. 18, 2020.

British Health Minister Matt Hancock said Friday the government is contemplating a second nationwide lockdown as new COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Britain.

Hancock commented in two interviews as a new lockdown went into effect in northeastern Britain.

Hancock said there has been an acceleration in the number of cases over the last couple of weeks, and the number of people hospitalized with the disease caused by the coronavirus has been doubling about every eight days.

The health minister said a nationwide lockdown is "the last line of defense," and the government would prefer isolated, regional lockdowns. But he said the government will do what it must "to protect lives and livelihoods."

Hancock urged British citizens to follow the "rule of six," with no public gatherings of more than six people; obey local restrictions in their area; and self-isolate if they have tested positive.

The Johns Hopkins University says Britain has the fifth-largest number of deaths from COVID-19 after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.

COVID-19 cases started to rise again in Britain this month, with between 3,000 and 4,000 positive tests recorded daily in the last week, but that is behind France and its more than 10,000 cases a day, officials say.

On September 17, Britain recorded 21 deaths from the disease, and the total stands at 41,794, according to Johns Hopkins.