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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Julian Simmonds/WPA Pool/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that a surge of coronavirus cases over the next two weeks could cripple the country's National Health Service (NHS), Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Johnson said the U.K., in terms of cases, is only "a matter of weeks — two or three — behind Italy," which overtook China last week as the country with the most reported deaths from the virus.

  • The surge of cases in northern Italy has severely strained the country's health care system, NBC reports.

By the numbers: As of Sunday morning, the U.K. had reported 5,067 cases and 233 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

  • Italy has reported more than 53,500 cases and 4,825 deaths.

What he's saying: “Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread — then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed,” Johnson said, according to Reuters. “The numbers are very stark, and they are accelerating."

  • “The Italians have a superb health-care system. And yet their doctors and nurses have been completely overwhelmed by the demand,” Johnson added.
  • He advised people to stay away from their parents on Sunday, which is Mothering Sunday in Britain.
  • “The single best present that we can give ... is to spare them the risk of catching a very dangerous disease."

The big picture: The NHS struck a deal with the independent hospital sector on Saturday, giving the institution more ventilators, beds and health care staff.

  • The U.K. government also urged 1.5 million people identified by the NHS as high-risk patients not to leave their homes.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Technology

AI could end foreign-language subtitles

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to translate and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 12 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

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