Additional parts of UK to go on lockdown as virus strain spreads

Health Sec says residents of London, Essex, Kent 'should behave as if they have the virus.'

Eitan Divinsky ,

Boris Johnson in Parliament
Boris Johnson in Parliament

As the UK faces its largest wave of coronavirus infections since the onset of the pandemic and its worst economic crisis since the "Great Frost" of 1709, the highest tier of health safety restrictions are expected to be enforced in coming days, according to a Bloomberg News report.

A new strain of the virus detected in the UK about two weeks ago that has now spread to countries worldwide including: Spain, Sweden, South Africa and the US, has caused panic within the UK's health system with some suggesting hospitals may not have enough space to treat incoming patients. On Tuesday, more than 50,000 new virus cases were confirmed - the highest single-day figure since the beginning of the crisis.

In an attempt to increase awareness within the local population, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said residents of London, Essex and Kent "should behave as if they have the virus."

Hancock, who says he wants educational institutions in the country to remain open despite the growing medical threat, voiced confidence the UK would be out of the woods by the coming spring. He believes the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, slated to be in use by Jan. 4, will mark the beginning of the end for the virus.

“It’s a matter of holding our nerve for a few weeks,” he was quoted as saying.

“What matters for the next few months, for the winter weeks for this country is that we keep the virus under control, protect the NHS, keep people alive, because we know the vaccine is coming,” Hancock said in an interview to BBC radio.

Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the two-dose vaccine, enough for 50 million people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the approval for use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as “fantastic news” and “a triumph for British science”.

“We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible," he stated.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the second to be approved for use in the country.

Earlier this month, UK health officials cleared the Pfzier-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use.