British Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively extended a nationwide coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday after ruling out a return to school for most students until at least March 8.
The lockdown initially went into effect on January 5 and was expected to last at least until mid-February in a bid to tackle a variant of the coronavirus that was spreading rapidly in the region.
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But Johnson told lawmakers on Wednesday that the UK remains in a “perilous situation” with more than 37,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, nearly double the number at the country’s previous summit in April.
Johnson said the students’ return date depended on the progress of immunizing those in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by February 15, and that he would release a “roadmap “For the” gradual and phased “relaxation of the coronavirus restriction. week of February 22.
English schools are currently closed to all students except those deemed vulnerable and children of key workers, such as doctors and delivery drivers. Schools are also closed in the rest of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In addition to delaying return to class, Johnson confirmed new restrictions for travelers arriving in England from countries considered high risk. The restrictions include a 10-day quarantine at hotels or other government-provided accommodation.
Britain is the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 virus-related deaths, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, and by far the smallest. The United States has recorded more than 400,000 deaths from COVID-19, the highest total in the world, but its population of around 330 million is about five times that of Britain.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.