England placed under lockdown till mid-Feb

Published January 5, 2021
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he has his temperature checked during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London, Monday Jan 4. — AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he has his temperature checked during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London, Monday Jan 4. — AP

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday a new national lockdown for England until at least mid-February to combat a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus, even as Britain ramped up its vaccination programme by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Johnson said people must stay at home again, as they were ordered to do so in the first wave of the pandemic in March, this time because the new virus variant was spreading in a frustrating and alarming way.

“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” he said.

Under the new rules, which are set to come into effect as soon as possible, primary and secondary schools and colleges will be closed for face to face learning except for the children of key workers. University students will not be returning until at least mid-February.

All non-essential shops and personal care services like hairdressers will be closed, and restaurants can only operate takeout services.

As of Monday, there were 26,626 Covid patients in hospitals in England, an increase of more than 30 percent from a week ago. That is 40 percent above the highest level of the first wave in the spring.

The UK has seen an alarming surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks as public health officials struggle to control the spread of a new variant of COVID-19 that is more contagious than previous variants. Aut­horities have recorded more than 50,000 new infections a day since passing that milestone for the first time on Dec. 29. On Monday, they reported 407 virus-related deaths to push the confirmed death toll total to 75,431, one of the worst in Europe.

Hours earlier, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon also imposed a lockdown in her nation until the end of January.

Beginning on Tuesday, people in Scotland will be required to stay at home except for essential reasons, to help ease the pressure on hospitals and intensive care units, Sturgeon said.

New vaccine

The announcements come on the day UK health authorities began putting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine into arms around the country, fuelling hopes that life may begin returning to normal by the spring.

Britain has secured the rights to 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to use than some of its rivals. In particular, it doesn’t require the super-cold storage needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

The new vaccine will be administered at a small number of hospitals for the first few days so authorities can watch out for any adverse reactions. But the NHS said hundreds of new vaccination sites including local doctors offices will open later this week, joining the more than 700 vaccination sites already in operation.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2021

Opinion

Shared city
26 Jan 2021

Shared city

Karachi is not a city ‘created by everybody’.
Back to governance
Updated 25 Jan 2021

Back to governance

While PDM has continued efforts to mount political pressure, it has been unable to force a crisis to challenge the PTI government.

Editorial

Pakistan-US ties
Updated 26 Jan 2021

Pakistan-US ties

The US remains the world’s most powerful country, one Pakistan cannot afford to ignore.
26 Jan 2021

NAB not impartial

NAB CHAIRMAN retired justice Javed Iqbal has claimed that his organisation is an unbiased anti white-collar-crime...
26 Jan 2021

Pakistan-South Africa series

IN what is seen as a rare instance, Pakistan start as the underdogs on their home turf when they take on South ...
Updated 25 Jan 2021

Where the buck stops

The rights to due process and security of person are accorded to every individual in this country.
25 Jan 2021

PPP’s plan?

THE PDM faces a fresh crisis as the PPP takes a conspicuously soft position on the long march. While the PDM talks ...
25 Jan 2021

Forward guidance

THE State Bank has taken the unusual step of issuing a forward guidance in its latest monetary policy statement to...