More than 16 million Londoners and residents of the south-east of England re-confine themselves on Sunday for a period that could be longer, in an effort to prevent a mutation “out of control” of the new Was forced to skip the Christmas reunion. coronavirus.
• Read also: New, more contagious strain of coronavirus worries epidemiologists
Despite the deployment of a vaccination campaign, Boris Johnson’s government has decided to significantly tighten the screw after contamination and hospitalizations were attributed to a new, much more contagious form of the virus.
“Unfortunately the new strain was out of control. We had to regain control,” Health Minister Matt Hancock explained on Sky News Channel.
“It will be very difficult to keep it under control until a vaccine is deployed,” he said, indicating that the ban could last at least “two months”.
The United Kingdom, one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe with more than 67,000 deaths and a record of nearly 36,000 cases on Sunday, informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the growing contagiousness of the disease. The tension is “up to 70% higher”, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
To protect themselves, several European countries, including neighboring Ireland, have decided to suspend their air or rail links with the United Kingdom.
Dublin said flights would be banned for “at least 48 hours” on Monday and Tuesday, while sea links remain secure. Steps will also be taken to “facilitate the repatriation” of Irish residents.
christmas in february
Already subject to tighter restrictions, residents of London, the south-east and parts of eastern England are now being instructed to stay at home.
They will no longer be able to meet for Christmas, while elsewhere in the country, families will only be able to see each other on December 25.
Non-essential businesses have closed, a setback for their activity in usually good times. Pubs and museums were closed for a few days.
On Sunday, Oxford Street, the busiest shopping artery in central London usually packed with activity, was deserted again in England nearly three weeks after the release of a second lockdown.
“If it’s necessary, so be it”, 73-year-old pensioner Liz Fields assured AFP, resigning. “We can celebrate (Christmas) in January, February, anywhere”.
David, 59, who works in insurance, expressed his regret that “again, we are bogged down by a lack of preparation at the government level”.
Traveling outside the areas placed under the highest alert level is prohibited. Additional police officers were deployed in the transport.
These announcements on Saturday prompted Londoners to immediately leave the capital in case of an emergency, with images circulated by the media showing stations from storms and road traffic jams.
Describing the behavior as “completely irresponsible”, Matt Hancock called on people to “act like they have the virus” in an effort to stop its spread.
Backing the sanctions, Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of “gross negligence” and of working late and ignoring red flags “for weeks”. On Wednesday, the conservative leader still claimed that canceling Christmas would be “inhumane”.
Previous mutations of SARS-CoV-2 have already been observed and reported worldwide.
The government’s scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, indicated on Saturday that the new version, named VUI 202012/01, was rapidly spreading and becoming a “dominant” form. It may have appeared in London or Kent (southeast) in mid-September.
The new strain has also been found at low levels in “many other areas” of the UK, according to Susan Hopkins of the public health agency Public Health England. The WHO has reported “small numbers” of cases in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.
Further studies are underway to determine its degree of transmittance and its potential resistance to vaccines. So far there is no indication that the new strain is causing a more severe form of the disease.
Heavily criticized since the start of the pandemic for its handling of the crisis, the government is betting big on immunizations to get out of it, aiming to give 500,000 people the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Weekend.
Wales has also decided to set aside early Sunday, while Scotland and Northern Ireland will do so just after Christmas, with each country in the UK setting its own health strategy. Outside London and the south-east, the release allowing families of three to see each other for five days has been reduced to one day initially around Christmas.
Alcohol maven. Incurable pop culture specialist. Communicator. Gamer. Certified explorer.