The UK government has resisted a short lockdown for all of England, despite calls from the opposition to shut the country down for two weeks.
The so-called “circuit breaker”, which the opposition Labour Party has demanded, is a step that a new scientific study said could save thousands of lives across the country.
With COVID-19 cases rapidly rising, the UK authorities opted this week for a three-tier system of local measures. The Liverpool area became the first part of the country in the highest category, requiring bars, gyms and other businesses to shut, perhaps for months.
On Wednesday, British-controlled Northern Ireland, which is outside the tier system, announced the toughest UK coronavirus measures since the pre-summer peak, closing restaurants and suspending schools.
Critics of the government say a short, sharp nationwide lockdown could be more effective than local measures, and would spread the economic burden more fairly.
According to the study, if daily deaths reach 200 by October 24, as many as 80,000 more people in the UK could die by the end of the year. A two-week lockdown could save half of them, the study said. Even in less extreme scenarios it could save thousands of lives, it added.