-Lockdown clouds UK's economic outlook
The U.K.’ market statistics show that the economy is in contraction. In February, the IHS Markit/Cips services purchasing manager’ index (PMI) registered a healthy 53.2 but in March this fell to 34.5, a score much lower than 50 that is indicative of contraction. Nearly 80% of the U.K.’s economy is based on the service sector but as the death toll rises due to the coronavirus and the lockdown continues, there are increasing fears that a deep recession in on the horizon.
British health authorities announced on Sunday the U.K.-wide death toll from coronavirus rose by 621 over the last 24 hours. The Department of Health said: “As of 9am 5 April, a total of 195,524 people have been tested of which 47,806 resulted positive.
“As of 5 pm on 4 April, of those hospitalized in the U.K. who tested positive for coronavirus, 4,934 have sadly died.”
The news came as warming weather in Britain tempted people outdoors, provoking a sharp response from Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Hancock said that if Brits continued to flout social distancing rules and did not respect the lockdown, then the lockdown would be tightened further like in other European countries such as France and Italy.
The U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital Sunday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus last week, with the symptoms failing to disappear.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “On the advice of his doctor, the Prime Minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests.'
“This is a precautionary step, as the Prime Minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus.
However, after his symptoms worsened on Monday afternoon, he was admitted to the intensive care unit in St. Thomas’ Hospital.
“The Prime Minister thanks NHS [National Health Service] staff for all of their incredible hard work and urges the public to continue to follow the Government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
On March 27, Johnson tweeted: “Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.”
Queen Elizabeth II addressed the U.K. and Commonwealth on Sunday amid the coronavirus outbreak. “Together we are tackling this disease and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” she said.
“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” she said.
Should the lockdown continue in the upcoming weeks, the economy is set to continue to shrink with investments on hold.