The lockdown is also the result of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus spreading at a rapid pace throughout the nation.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a national recovery plan this week after the United Kingdom entered another lockdown amid a massive increase in the spread of Covid-19, as well as a new variant of the virus that has appeared in the UK that is proving to be much more transmissible.
Johnson claimed that the plan involves delivering 2 million coronavirus vaccines every week. The plan and lockdown are also the result of the National Health Service pleading with the government that they wouldn’t be able to handle the amount of patients coming in at the rate in which the nation was moving in regards to new infections and hospitalizations. The prime minister shut down all schools in England and ordered residents to stay home.
Johnson also claimed that the next few weeks would be critical, and would likely show even more infections appearing throughout the nation. The hope is that the lockdown will hopefully minimize the impact that this increase has on the NHS. The target for now is to get 13.9 million high-risk individuals fully vaccinated by mid-February, once that occurs Johnson claims the lockdown restrictions can begin to be lifted.
“With every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favor of the British people. I really do believe that we are entering the last phase of the struggle.”
According to Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, the target to vaccinate that many people in that amount of time is ambitious, but not impossible: “The bottleneck doesn’t seem to be on the logistical side. The NHS is ready to deliver. If any glitches do arise, it will likely be with supply, but if we get the supplies, we can vaccinate that many people.”
The emergency lockdown measures officially began this past Monday night and are set to last until February 15th; obviously that will also be dependent on how recovered the nation is by that point. All social activities, school establishments, non-essential travel services, etc. have been closed down. Retail and hospitality businesses are yet again in a position of worry with all of these closings, as there’s no clear-cut plan to keep these establishments open.
Police in the UK will also have legal powers to use fines and dispersal orders to enforce the lockdown rules. The lockdown couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for the UK either, as data showed new infections surpassed 80,000 in a single day at the end of December, and by January 4th there were almost 27,000 patients hospitalized with the virus; which is also due to the new variant of the virus spreading throughout the nation.
“Hospitals are stretched to breaking point. Doctors are desperate, with some even comparing their working environment to a war-zone as wards overflow.”
Johnson initially ignored the pressures from scientists and lawmakers to lockdown the nation back in December and instead just cut back plans that allowed holiday travel; which clearly wasn’t successful. Government chief medical officers made it clear last week that the four nations of the UK’s health services now may not be able to cope with the influx of cases due to this inaction.
Scotland also announced this week that they would be entering into a nationwide lockdown which began on Monday. This involved shutting down schools and all non-essential travel as well, as the new UK variant of the virus has made its way to the country already as well.
It’s important to note that while this new variant of Covid-19 is thought to be much more transmissible, and it’s more likely you’d have a severe case if you were to be infected with this specific variant, the vaccine will still provide immunization against it. However, pressures need to be fully relieved on the entire world’s health services so that they have the time and ability to get everyone vaccinated efficiently.
“If we succeed in vaccinating all vulnerable groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus. That will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long,” Johnson claimed. However, there will definitely be a delay between all these patients being vaccinated and the pressures being eased on the NHS in the UK.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.