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Johnson defends coronavirus approach as best way to avoid 'misery' of lockdown

An NHS information sign about Coronavirus on a digital screen at the Liverpool ONE shopping complex in Liverpool city centre

"The question isn't whether we can afford a circuit breaker, the question is whether we can continue with a government that ducks making hard choices until its forced into them", she said.

On Tuesday, Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labor Party, called for a three-week lockdown, based on advice from Britain's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, schools will close from Monday and pubs and restaurants face new restrictions on Friday.

It comes after Starmer's press conference on Tuesday in which he demanded a "circuit breaker" national lockdown in England, lasting up to three weeks, to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Of Conservative voters, 65% said they would support the lockdown and 76% of Labour voters supported their leader's suggestions.

This gives a total number of deaths so far from Covid of 43,018.

LABOUR urged the government today to impose a temporary national coronavirus lockdown, warning that more jobs will be put at risk if ministers wait for a U-turn.

The latest figures showed 19,724 more lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom and that a further 137 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

Local authorities also said the UK Government wasn't offering enough financial assistance to mitigate the economic impact of such a move.

Mr Johnson replied that his plan was "the plan that [Sir Keir] supported on Monday" and accused Labour of opportunism and reneging on its support for the tiered system.

"We're going to do it - and I rule out nothing, of course, in combating the virus - but we are going to do it with the local, the regional approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented".

Prof Medley said: "People have said this is kicking the can down the road, and it is - you're not saving lives".

Addressing a private meeting of Conservative Party lawmakers virtually, Johnson defended his system, saying a localised response was needed, a lawmaker present said.

"I think that would be the point of it, the point of it is to stop hospitals getting to a level where they can not cope with other conditions", he said. The Times reports that they have seen a Sage report which claims that a two-week lockdown with "stay at home" orders and school closures could reduce coronavirus deaths for the rest of the year.

"That is why the tiered the right way forward", he said.

Paul Brand, a councillor in Liverpool, said the city's intensive care units are already more than 90% full, with the city soon expected to reach levels of bed occupancy seen during the first wave of Covid-19.