UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a lockdown for England’s 56 million people after a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the country.
“Since the pandemic began last year, the whole United Kingdom has been engaged in a great national effort to fight Covid and there is no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus, our collective efforts were working and would have continued to work. But we now have a new variant of the virus. It has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading,” Johnson said in a televised address.
“Our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible – that means you are much, much more likely to catch the virus and to pass it on. Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” the Prime Minister said.
Johnson said the number of Covid patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week, to almost 27,000 – 40 percent more than at the peak of the first wave of the outbreak in April last year.
“On 29 December, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record,” he said.
Johnson pointed out that the number of deaths in the country over the last one week were up by 20 per cent and will rise further.
“With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,” he said.
Johnson said that citizens may be permitted to leave home for limited reasons such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.
The Prime Minister said, “primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.”