Since late December, as the UK COVID-19 numbers surge, the UK has been registering more than 50,000 cases per day, a big surge from early December of 15,000 per day. The spike is a result of a new strain, which is said to be more infectious than the previous strain. Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that his government will soon have to impose tighter restrictions.
“It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country… I’m fully, fully reconciled to that… There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider… I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be, but I’m sure that all our viewers and our listeners will understand what the sort of things (would be)… clearly school closures, which we had to do in March is one of those things,” he said on the program.
In London, all primary schools will be shut down for the first couple of weeks in January. In other regions where the viral outbreak is not so severe, some schools have reopened. This has been met with complaints from local authorities. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, noted that the shutdown of schools in London is “the right decision.”
Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine, jointly developed with Oxford University, is being distributed throughout the country. Around 530,000 doses of the vaccine will be made available during the initial stage. People above the age of 80, hospital staff, and nursing home caretakers are prioritized to receive the vaccine. More than a million UK citizens have been inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine. Johnson hopes that “tens of millions” of citizens will get vaccinated in the next three months.
Due to the recent spike in CCP virus cases, British authorities have changed their strategy for administering vaccines. Initially, they had planned to give everyone two shots of the vaccine as soon as possible. Now the focus is making sure that everyone gets the first shot. Then the second shot will follow after three months. The chief medical officers of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland have issued a joint statement saying that the first shot alone is enough to provide “substantial” protection against the CCP virus.
The rapidly rising COVID-19 cases have also forced British health officers to deactivate emergency hospitals. These were built when the pandemic had initially broken out. With 50,000 new cases every day, the healthcare system in the country is under great stress. A National Health Service (NHS) spokesperson mentioned that the temporary Nightingale hospital in London is being prepared to admit new patients.
British airline passengers must produce a negative coronavirus test result
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently mandates all British airline passengers to get a negative COVID-19 test done before entering the country.
“Passengers are required to get a viral test [a test for current infection] within the 3 days before their flight from the UK to the US departs and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (in hard copy or electronic) to the airline. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers before they board. If a passenger chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger,” the CDC said in a statement.