Beware second virus wave, medics warn UK

Guy Faulconbridge
Medical groups have warned of a second cornavirus wave in the UK as people flocked to the beach

A second coronavirus wave is a real risk for the United Kingdom and local flare-ups are likely, major health bodies say in one of the strongest warnings yet to Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he eases lockdown to help the economy.

The United Kingdom has one of the world's highest death tolls from COVID-19 but infections have fallen.

The government plans to lift many restrictions in England from July 4 to help an economy facing the deepest contraction in three centuries.

With fears of second spikes haunting leaders around the world, some of Britain's most eminent health leaders want urgent preparations for such a possible scenario.

"While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk," the medics said in a letter in the British Medical Journal.

European countries emerging from painful shutdowns are nervously watching a new outbreak at a meat-packing plant in Germany, where two municipalities have regressed to lockdown.

The medics' letter called for a review focusing on "areas of weakness" to prevent a second wave.

In response, a spokesman for Johnson said authorities would continue to guarantee resources for health and care services while working closely with the National Health Service to prepare for the northern winter.

The death toll in the United Kingdom from confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 43,081, an increase of 154 from a day earlier, the government said on Wednesday.