Scientists urge UK to prep rapid return of COVID measures

Virus Outbreak Britain

LONDON (AP) — The British government’s scientific advisers urged the government on Friday to ensure coronavirus restrictions can be introduced rapidly, as the rate of new infections continues to grow.

Britain has recorded an average of 47,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day in the past week, up 18% from the week before, according to figures released on Friday. There was an average of 135 deaths a day, a 16% rise from the previous week. Britain has recorded more than 139,000 coronavirus deaths during the pandemic, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.

Many scientists are urging the government to reintroduce some of the measures that it lifted three months ago when more than a year of restrictions ended, including mandatory mask-wearing indoors, social distancing and work-from-home advice.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, a body of scientists that advises the government, says “policy work on the potential reintroduction of measures should be undertaken now so that it can be ready for rapid deployment,” according to minutes of a meeting held last week.

The group said that of all the measures the government is considering, the “re-introduction of working from home guidance is likely to have the greatest individual impact on transmission.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government says it may reimpose some restrictions as part of a fall and winter “Plan B” — but not yet.

Britain is relying almost exclusively on vaccines to keep