A bus passes in front of a sign displaying the government’s measures against the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), on the first day of the newly imposed lockdown, in London, Britain, November 5, 2020.
John Sibley | Reuters
On Wednesday, the UK government outlined plans to impose tougher coronavirus restrictions on millions of people across England as a new strain of the virus spreads across the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that more areas will be placed in the toughest Tier 4 category starting at 00:01 London time on Thursday.
Hancock told the House of Commons: “This new type is spreading now throughout most of England and the issues are multiplying rapidly.” “It is therefore imperative to apply the Tier 4 measures to a wider area, including the remaining parts of the southeast, as well as large parts of the center, northwest, northeast, and southwest.”
Hancock said the move would mean that three-quarters of the population will be at Level 4 for the New Year.
The restrictions, which include a “stay-at-home” order, mean that people should not leave their homes unless they have a reasonable excuse. Businesses including non-essential stores, gyms and hairdressers must close.
This announcement comes shortly after the launch of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for Coronavirus Authorized for emergency use in the UK. It is believed that the vaccine will allow the UK to significantly ramp up its vaccination program.
“We need to get vaccinated as quickly as supplies allow by following the necessary safety checks, of course, and the NHS is ready to accelerate deployment on a large scale from Monday, January 4,” Hancock said.
He added: “We have a total of 100 million doses on demand, which with the Pfizer vaccine is sufficient to vaccinate every adult person in the UK, with both doses.”
Hancock said that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it, adding that the UK will have 530,000 doses available as of Monday, with millions more due from Astra-Zeneca at the start of February.
Government data shows that infection rates have risen sharply across England in the past week, with much pressure on hospitals.
On Tuesday, 53,135 new Covid cases were recorded in the UK, the highest in a single day since mass testing began.
The new coronavirus variant found in the United Kingdom is said to be more transmissible and has led to travel restrictions for people wanting to leave the country. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new strain, referred to as SARS-CoV-2 VUI 20 2012/01 in the scientific community, could be 70% more transmissible.
US health officials Has been confirmed The first case of infection with the new strain, on Wednesday. Several other countries have also identified the changing strain in recent weeks.