National Lockdown in England owing to the fast spreading new strain of Coronavirus
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson on Monday evening announced that England will go into a nation-wide lockdown starting effect from Tuesday midnight (0000 GMT). This is the third lockdown in England during the pandemic and will last at least till the mid of February.
On January 4th, 2021, UK saw the biggest ever spike in the number of daily Covid-19 positive cases with 58,784 new cases and 407 deaths due to Covid-19. This makes the cumulative total of the Covid -19 cases in the UK up to 2,713,567 with 75,431 deaths.
The UK is under more pressure from Covid than ever before due to the alarming rate at which the cases are increasing. With the emergence of the fast spreading new variant of Coronavirus, extreme measures must be adopted to curb its spread. PM Johnson informed that according to the British Scientists the new variant is 50-70% more transmissible.
UK’s Covid-19 alert level has moved to the highest level of 5 according to chief medical officers of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland,etc. They further added that if necessary actions have not been taken then the National Health Service (NHS) would be overwhelmed within 21 days. On Tuesday Prime Minister, Boris Johnson tweeted the following slogan “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives”
Earlier on Monday, Scottish leader, Nicola Sturgeon announced the new lockdown in Scotland, and everyone in Scotland is required to stay at home except for emergencies
UK has ramped up its vaccination program to combat the spread of the virus. Covid vaccine by AstraZeneca has been approved for emergency supply in UK. During the Press Conference on Tuesday, Johnson said that 1.3 million people have already received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The top priority groups for the vaccination include older care home residents and their carers, people over 70, frontline health workers and social care workers, and clinically extremely vulnerable people.
The new lockdown guidelines are similar to the ones of the lockdown in March 2020. People are instructed strictly to stay at home except for essential reasons like medical appointments, exercise, shopping for essential household goods.
During the televised address, the Prime minister said that schools can act as vectors for the spread of infection among households and hence will be closed until further notice.
Primary and Secondary schools will be closed, and classes will be held online except for vulnerable and critical workers’ children. Higher education systems will also employ online learning. Students who are studying and training for medicine, dentistry, subjects allied to medicine and health, veterinary science, and social work can return for face-to-face learning and will be tested twice on arrival or self-isolate for 10 days.
Meeting people who are not within the same household or support bubble is not permitted.
All hospitality businesses like pubs and restaurants, sports facilities, gyms, and so on will remain closed. Although, supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, hospitals, and places of worship will remain open.
International travel and travel within the UK are also restricted unless for emergencies and essential reasons.
Those who are under the extremely vulnerable category are advised to stay at home as far as possible and to limit their visits outside only for medical appointments, exercise, or if it is essential and not for working or educational reasons.