PM warns new coronavirus wave in Europe likely to ‘wash up on our shores’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19) - Credit: PA

Britain must brace for another wave of coronavirus infections being imported from Europe as cases rise on the continent, Boris Johnson has warned.

The prime minister said he expected the third wave of Covid-19 infections, seen in countries such as France and Italy, to “wash up on our shores as well”.

But Johnson said he did not think the European Union wanted to block vaccine exports from reaching the UK, following suggestions Brussels could stop supplies from crossing the Channel amid struggles with its own rollout.

Speaking to broadcasters at BAE Systems in Lancashire, Johnson said: “I’ve talked to our (European) friends repeatedly over the period – we’re all facing the same pandemic, we all have the same problems.

“If there is one thing that is worth stressing it’s that on the continent right now you can see sadly there is a third wave under way.

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“People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well.

“I expect that we will feel those effects in due course.

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“That’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can but a vaccination campaign and developing vaccines, rolling them out – these are international projects and they require international co-operation.”

His comments come after several regions in France, including Paris, spent their first weekend under a limited month-long lockdown.

Care minister Helen Whately, speaking earlier, said it was “premature” to consider booking a holiday abroad with coronavirus rates on the rise elsewhere and urged Britons to “hold off” on making foreign travel plans.

She told BBC Breakfast: “What I would counsel is caution at the moment for people to hold off on booking because, as anybody can see, we are in a situation where there are rising rates in many countries in Europe and we know that also something that comes with rising rates is increased rates of variants.”

The prime minister faces a showdown this week with lockdown-sceptic Tories over proposals to extend coronavirus laws for a further six months, taking them beyond June 21 when all restrictions are due to be scrapped.

Johnson’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said he will “make the case” for renewing the Coronavirus Act’s emergency measures as part of his lockdown road map when he addresses the powerful backbench 1922 Committee of Tory MPs.

Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, asked about her party’s stance on the extension of the measures, said any restrictions would have to “go hand in hand” with support for businesses.

No 10 confirmed Johnson will privately observe a minute’s silence on Tuesday “to all those who tragically lost their lives in the pandemic” as the country marks a year since the first lockdown.

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