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UK PM imposes harsh lockdown for England amid COVID-19 new variant

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reimposed a lockdown in England on Monday as a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 fuels a surge in infections and hospitalizations across the country.

"Since the pandemic began last year, the whole of 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 are working and would have continued to work. But we now have a new variant of the virus, and it has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading," Johnson said during an address to the nation.

"Our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic. In England alone, the number of COVID patients in hospitals has increased by nearly a third in the last week to almost 27,000 and that number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April," he added.

The announcement for England follows an announcement earlier Monday that Scotland would go into lockdown. Wales and Northern Ireland, the other two nations of the United Kingdom, were already in lockdown.

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's clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out. In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home," he said.

Johnson said that citizens may be permitted to leave home for limited reasons such as "shop for essentials, seek medical assistance or to escape domestic abuse".
He announced that primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges across England will move to remote permit provision starting Tuesday, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

The UK Prime Minister said that 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.

CNN reported 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.

 

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