Health

U.K. warns of more lockdown measures as country fights new strain of coronavirus

Update: Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new lockdown measures late Monday. Read the newest developments right here. Our earlier story is under.


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Sunday that more onerous lockdown restrictions in England are probably within the coming weeks as the country reels from a new coronavirus variant that has pushed an infection charges to their highest recorded ranges.

Johnson, although, insisted he has “no doubt” that faculties are protected and urged mother and father to ship their youngsters again into the classroom in areas of England the place they will. Unions representing lecturers have known as for faculties to show to distant studying for at the very least a pair of weeks more as a result of new variant, which scientists have mentioned is as much as 70% more contagious.

The U.Okay. is battling an acute outbreak, recording more than 50,000 new coronavirus infections a day over the previous six days. On Sunday, it notched up one other 54,990 instances, down barely from the day prior to this’s every day file of 57,725. The country additionally recorded one other 454 virus-related deaths to take the whole to 75,024. According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the U.Okay. is alternating with Italy as the worst-hit European nation.

“We are entirely reconciled to do what it takes to get the virus under control, that may involve tougher measures in the weeks ahead,” Johnson mentioned in an interview with BBC News. “Obviously there are a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider.”

Johnson conceded that college closures, curfews and the whole banning of family mixing could possibly be on the agenda for areas below essentially the most stress.

London and southeast England are going through extraordinarily excessive ranges of new infections and there may be hypothesis that restrictions there should be tightened to carry the virus below management. In some elements of the British capital and its surrounding areas, there are more than 1,000 instances per 100,000 individuals.

Johnson’s Conservative authorities is utilizing a tiered coronavirus restrictions system. Most of England is already on the highest Tier 4 degree, which includes the closure of retailers not promoting nonessential gadgets and locations like gyms and recreation facilities as effectively as a stay-at-home instruction.

“What we are using now is the tiering system, which is a very tough system, and alas probably about to get tougher to keep things under control,” he mentioned. “We’ll review it and we have the prospect of vaccines coming down the tracks in their tens of millions, offering people literally life and hope.”

Keir Starmer, the chief of the principle opposition Labour Party, urged Johnson to herald additional nationwide restrictions within the subsequent day or so although he stopped brief of calling for the closure of faculties as he mentioned he did not need to “add to the chaos” that’s more likely to emerge on Monday.

“The virus is clearly out of control,” Starmer mentioned. “We can’t allow the prime minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in a national lockdown which is inevitable.”

Starmer additionally mentioned it is unavoidable that more faculties will shut and urged the federal government to provide you with a plan each for college students and for working mother and father.


UK rolls out new vaccine amid Brexit

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One space the U.Okay. has moved shortly is on the vaccination entrance. It was the primary to start vaccinating individuals over age 80 and well being care staff on December 8 with the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Last week, regulators permitted one other vaccine made by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca that’s cheaper and simpler to make use of than the Pfizer vaccine.

Hundreds of new vaccination websites are attributable to be up and working this week as the National Health Service ramps up its immunization program with the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot. Officials say round 530,000 doses of the new vaccine will likely be in place Monday as the country strikes in direction of its aim of vaccinating 2 million individuals every week as quickly as attainable.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will likely be administered at a small quantity of hospitals for the primary few days so authorities might be looking out for any adversarial reactions. Hundreds of new vaccination websites — at each hospitals as effectively as native docs’ workplaces — are attributable to launch this week, becoming a member of the more than 700 already in operation, NHS England mentioned.

In a shift from practices within the U.S. and elsewhere, Britain plans to present individuals second doses of each vaccines inside 12 weeks of the primary shot slightly than inside 21 days, to speed up immunizations throughout as many individuals as shortly as attainable.

“My mum, as well as you or your older loved ones, may be affected by this decision, but it is still the right thing to do for the nation as a whole,” the federal government’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, mentioned in an article for the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

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