The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed another lockdown on England as a result of a more transmissible variant of COVID-19, CNN reports.
Mr Johnson in a nationwide broadcast said, “It is clear that we need to do more to bring this new variant under control. That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home.”
The lockdown is expected to remain in place at least through the middle of February.
During his televised address to the nation, Mr Johnson reimposed measures seen during the first lockdown, including closures of secondary and primary schools to all except the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
“People will be allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons like shopping for essentials, exercise, and medical assistance.”
Mr Johnson also said people could still leave home “to escape domestic abuse” — an issue that arose earlier during the pandemic, as isolation and lockdown conditions exacerbated barriers to escape for victims of domestic violence.
“Outdoor sports venues will have to close. But unlike spring’s lockdown, nurseries will not be shuttered, elite sports can go ahead, and places of worship will remain open on the basis that attendees adhere to social distancing rules.”
Hours before, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a lockdown that will begin at midnight, Tuesday, local time. Wales and Northern Ireland — the other nations of the UK — are already in lockdown.
CNN reports that the UK is back in crisis mode as new daily COVID-19 cases soared above 50,000 cases for nearly a week, and hospitalizations exceed April’s peak.
According to Mr Johnson, there were 30 per cent more COVID-19 patients in hospitals in England on Monday than a week earlier.
UK Chief Medical Officers and the NHS England Medical Director have advised that the country enter the highest coronavirus alert level for the first time in the pandemic, he added. The measure is in response to hospitalizations that could overwhelm the country’s National Health Service (NHS) in the next 21 days.
“Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of COVID patients in hospitals and in intensive care.”
“We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days,” UK Chief Medical Officers said, adding that the new variant, believed to have originated in the UK, has led to rising cases “almost everywhere.”
According to a recent update, the United Kingdom has recorded over 2,713,563 cases and about 75,431 deaths.