Johnson under fire as UK again faces onslaught of COVID-19

LONDON (AP) – The crisis facing Britain this winter is depressingly familiar: Stay-at-home orders and empty streets. Hospitals overflowing. A daily toll of many hundreds of coronavirus deaths.

The United Kingdom (UK) is the epicentre of Europe’s COVID-19 outbreak once more, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is facing questions, and anger, as people demand to know how the country has ended up here – again.

Many countries are enduring new waves of the virus, but Britain’s is among the worst, and it comes after a horrendous 2020. More than three million people in the UK have tested positive for the coronavirus and 81,000 have died – 30,000 in just the last 30 days. The economy has shrunk by eight per cent, more than 800,000 jobs have been lost and hundreds of thousands more furloughed workers are in limbo.

Even with the new lockdown, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Friday that the situation in the capital was “critical,” with one in every 30 people infected. “The stark reality is that we will run out of beds for patients in the next couple of weeks unless the spread of the virus slows down drastically,? he said.

Medical staff are also at breaking point.

“Whereas before, everyone went into a mode of, ‘We just need to get through this,’ (now) everybody is like, ‘Here we go again – can I get through this?’” said Lindsey Izard, a senior intensive care nurse at St. George’s Hospital in London. “That’s really, really hard for our staff.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches as a woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine in London. PHOTO: AP