LONDON – The United Kingdom on Thursday rebuilt new coronavirus restrictions in parts of northern England amid a spate of attacks, which is also happening across Europe and Asia, raising fears of a second wave.
“I’m worried about a second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told British broadcaster Sky News, who like NBC News is owned by Comcast Corp.
The UK reported 846 new positive cases on Thursday – the highest number of daily infections since 28 June.
Over 4 million people in Greater Manchester, the largest urban region in the north of England and other parts of the region are once again under tighter blockade measures. They have been instructed not to mingle with other families, though they can still go to the pub and work.
“The problem with this virus is that it thrives on social contact which makes life worth living,” Hancock told Sky. “I fully understand the human impact of this, but unfortunately this is how the virus goes.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that he plans to reopen high-risk public spaces – such as casinos, theaters and sports venues – on August 1 that will be postponed until at least August 15.
“I have said that our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional,” Johnson told a news conference. “As these numbers increase, our assessment is that we now need to squeeze that broken pedal … in order to keep the virus under control.”
The demand to wear face masks in stores will extend to other public places such as museums and cinemas, he said.
Worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases has reached 17.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 673,000 people have died.
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany reported 902 new cases on Thursday – an increase from the Robert Koch Institute, which is following the country’s data, called “disturbing”. Another 870 cases were reported on Friday.
At least one of the blasts in the country is linked to agricultural workers in the Bavarian district of Dingolfing-Landau, forcing a company to quarantine its employees, the institute said.
Meanwhile, Germany has also joined Britain in enforcing stricter travel rules for people coming from parts of Spain.
The UK move to require travelers from Spain to quarantine for 14 days was announced last weekend with immediate effect after the country reported a number of explosions, causing devastation for Britons there on holiday.
On Thursday, Spain’s health ministry reported the biggest daily jump in new cases as the blockade ended with more than 1,000 new infections for the second day in a row.
The United States, by comparison, saw an increase of nearly 58,000 confirmed cases in the 24 hours between Thursday and Friday, according to NBC News estimates.
There have also been spikes in cases of coronaviruses throughout Asia.
In Japan, 463 new cases were reported in the capital Tokyo on Friday, adding 367 new cases reported the day before.
The city government is now urging restaurants and bars to shorten their opening hours until August in a bid to limit the spread. A sticker system has also been introduced to highlight restaurants and shops that are safe for public access.
“Our lives have changed. Our lifestyle has changed. So our behaviors need to change as well,” said Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
Koike warned that if the situation worsens, it could call for a state of emergency in the region, although it would not be as restrictive as previous measures taken to keep the economy growing.
Vietnam’s health ministry reported its highest daily increase since cases first appeared in January with 45 new infections confirmed on Friday. Threatens the country’s impressive record in virus content.
No coronavirus deaths have yet been reported in Vietnam, and before the virus regenerated this week, the country had recorded 100 days without any cases being transmitted locally.
Hong Kong also reported 3,151 new cases on Friday. Following warnings from Chief Executive Carrie Lam earlier this week that the territory was on the verge of a major explosion.
The territory was initially assessed for airing the first two waves of the pandemic. An increase in cases starting earlier this month sparked new restrictions, including mandatory masks both inside and outside.
The United States remains the country most affected by about 4.4 million cases and over 150,000 deaths, according to NBC News.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Andy Eckardt, Mai Nishiyama and Reuters contributed.