Covid-19: Boris Johnson announces total reconfinement of England

Under the pressure of calls to redefine, the Prime Minister had warned of another turn of the screw. With more than 75,000 dead, the UK is one of the most bereaved countries in Europe and the trend has worsened in recent weeks.

Le Monde

The English will, more than ever, have to be patient. Faced with the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus, more contagious according to initial studies and despite the hope raised by the deployment of a second vaccine, which began on Monday, January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced during a televised address in the evening, the total reconfinement of England. This new containment, as strict as that put in place in the spring, provides for the closure of schools and must last if conditions allow, until mid-February, he said.

Under the pressure of calls to reconfigure all of England, Boris Johnson had warned of a new turn of the screw. Scotland has already announced full containment from Monday evening for the entire month of January.

Almost 80% of the English population are already subject to the highest level of restrictions, while the provinces of Northern Ireland and Wales introduced their third lockdown just after Christmas.

A sign of a sharp tightening, health officials across the UK have recommended the move to the highest level of health alert in the country. They warn that there is a “significant risk in several regions” that the public health system, the NHS, will be “overwhelmed over the next 21 days” without adequate intervention.

Criticized for its hesitations and reversals in the management of the crisis, Boris Johnson’s government has redoubled its efforts on the vaccination front. The campaign launched on December 8 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (more than a million people have received it) will be able to accelerate with the start of the distribution on Monday of that developed by the British laboratory AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford.

On Monday morning, Brian Pinker, 82, became the first patient to receive the British vaccine since it was approved by health authorities. Mask on the face, this retiree who worked in maintenance pulled up the sleeve of his polo shirt so that the head nurse at Churchill Hospital at the University of Oxford could inject him with the British “national” vaccine before him put a bandage in front of the cameras.

The government has ordered 100 million doses, of which 520,000 are already ready, which will help speed up the campaign. The arrival of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine represents “a turning point in our fight against this horrible virus”, welcomed the Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, wishing “that it gives everyone hope that the end of this pandemic is in sight “.

One of the most bereaved countries in Europe

With more than 75,000 dead, the United Kingdom is one of the countries of Europe most bereaved by the Covid-19 and the trend has worsened in recent weeks. The number of daily positive cases exceeds the threshold of 50,000 for several days and was close to 59,000 Monday. Hospitals are already inundated with Covid-19 patients, more numerous than at the worst of the first wave in spring.

In mainland Scotland, residents were already called upon to avoid non-essential travel, but it was decided to return to total containment, as in March, including the closure of schools. “From midnight and for all of January you will be legally bound to stay at home,” said Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, citing a “blow” due to the new “variant of the virus which spreads quickly”.

Also approved by Argentina and India, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was eagerly awaited. Inexpensive (around 2.70 euros per dose), it has the advantage of being able to be stored at refrigerator temperature (against – 70 ° C for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine), thus facilitating large-scale vaccination.

It will be distributed as a priority to risk categories representing 99% of deaths: residents of retirement homes, caregivers, people over 50 years old. To speed up the administration of a first dose to as large a population as possible, the two doses will be spaced considerably apart, up to twelve weeks, during which time those vaccinated are protected.

/Le Monde Report. View in full here.