British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the United Kingdom will enter a “national quarantine” until mid-February to try to contain the advance of COVID-19 after the health situation worsened drastically in recent weeks before the breakthrough into the territory of a new and more contagious strain of the virus.
In a recorded message, Johnson said it is “frustrating and alarming” to see “the speed with which it spreads” the new variant of the virus, which experts advising the government have concluded is “between 50 and 70 percent more contagious”.
To support the statement, the headline of 10 Downing Street provided the progression of the latest health figures in the territory. He indicated that hospitalizations have grown by almost a third since last week and exceed 27,000 people; that during the last day’s successive records of infections have been broken – which exceeded 80,000 infections on December 29 – and that deaths have increased by 20 percent since last week. “Sadly, they will continue to increase,” he said.
Consequently, people in the country will have to stay at home and will only be able to leave in a few exceptions. “To buy essential items, work if they cannot do it from home, exercise, receive medical treatment, or escape from situations of domestic abuse.”
Primary and secondary schools, meanwhile, will operate remotely again, with the exception of the children of essential workers and vulnerable children. Johnson said the government will ensure that children who receive free school meals continue to do so, and provide necessary tools so that everyone can learn remotely.
In this regard, the president said that the problem is not that schools are unsafe – and indicated that children are not particularly affected by the new variant – but that they can “act as transmission vectors.”
The measures will have legal weight as of Wednesday. That day, Parliament will sit remotely later to sign them. “Now more than ever, it’s vital to follow the rules,” Johnson said.
Despite the measures, the prime minister stressed that the authorities are accelerating the speed of vaccination after having approved on December 30 the inoculant developed by the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. “If things go well,” he said, they hope to have given the first dose of a vaccine to the four main risk groups, including the elderly and health personnel.
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