(File photo) Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson Photograph:( Reuters )
After persisting for weeks with local and regional restrictions, Johnson announced at the weekend that a new nationwide lockdown would come into force from Thursday and end on December 2, bringing England into line with other parts of the UK and Europe
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday his government would roll out new types of COVID-19 testing "on a scale never seen before" to stem the growing pandemic when a new lockdown in England expires on December 2.
"At the expiry of this period on December 2 ... we will be rolling out across this country new types of testing on a scale never seen before," Johnson told parliament.
He also promised to support British businesses and help them bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
"We will do whatever it takes to back British business, because I know that when the recovery comes, and it will come, it will happen entirely thanks to the efforts of the people who are watching me now," he said in a pre-recorded video address to the Confederation of British Industry annual conference.
After persisting for weeks with local and regional restrictions, Johnson announced at the weekend that a new nationwide lockdown would come into force from Thursday and end on December 2, bringing England into line with other parts of the UK and Europe.
Scientific models show that, without immediate action, the number of deaths over the winter months could double those in the first wave earlier this year, and hospitals would soon be overwhelmed, Johnson told the House of Commons.
"I am truly sorry for the anguish these measures will impose, particularly for businesses that had just got back on their feet," he said.
"But it's now clear that we must do more together."
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the prime minister of a "catastrophic failure of leadership", but Johnson vowed "no apologies" for resisting an earlier national lockdown, given the impact on lives, mental health and livelihoods.
"I believe it was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level," he said.
The ramped-up response came as Britain surpassed one million cases, while its number of coronavirus-related deaths is nearing 47,000, the worst toll in Europe.
The government is extending a UK-wide furlough scheme to support staff wages in shut-down businesses that was due to expire on October 31.