Health

Boris Johnson says how coronavirus lockdown will be lifted

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a televised press conference at 10 Downing Street on February 22, 2021 in London, England.

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had some good news for the country on Monday after months of lockdown. An “unprecedented” vaccination program meant it was “now on the road to freedom”.

The easing relief for England will come in several stages and “depend on data, not data at every stage,” he said. As a first step, schools in England will reopen on March 8th. The final step, slated for June 21, will lift all mixing restrictions and reopen all sectors such as nightclubs that will remain closed.

Johnson confirmed that over 17.7 million Britons had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

“Almost a year after this pandemic began, this unprecedented national effort has decisively shifted the odds in our favor,” Johnson said at a press conference Monday evening. “We no longer have to rely solely on locks.”

He added, “With every day that goes by, this vaccination program creates a protective shield for the entire population, which means that we are now on a one-way trip to freedom and can safely begin to restart our lives and do it with confidence. “

More contagious strain

The UK was one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with the fourth highest number of infections after the US, India and Brazil. To date, more than 4.1 million coronavirus cases have been counted and there have been 120,987 deaths as a result of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

There was a sharp spike in cases going into winter when a new, more contagious strain of the virus emerged in the southeast of the country. It is now the dominant virus strain nationwide and has been detected in numerous countries around the world alongside other more virulent virus strains.

One silver lining in Britain’s experience with the pandemic has been the vaccination response. It was the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, the candidate from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The AstraZeneca-University-of-Oxford-Jab was then approved and administration started, a cheaper vaccine made in the UK and easier to transport and store than competing jabs.

Four key tests

Johnson outlined four tests that must be passed before the UK can move on to the next level of lifting restrictions. These are:

  • That the vaccine delivery program will continue successfully.
  • There is evidence that vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospital stays and deaths among those vaccinated.
  • The infection rates do not risk an increase in hospital stays that would not put sustained pressure on the national health service.
  • That the assessment of the risks will not be fundamentally changed by new, questionable coronavirus variants.

Speaking to the nation, Johnson acknowledged that some people would like a more cautious approach to lifting the lockdown, while others would prefer the plan to be accelerated. He referred to a “careful balance” but stressed that the restrictions could not persist indefinitely.

“It is grateful for the introduction of these vaccinations … that the balance of this judgment is now changing in our favor. And thanks to the vaccinations, that light lies ahead of us that will lead us to a spring and a summer that I think hope there will be seasons, “said Johnson. “Which we will not return from.”

New infections fall

The data show that new infections are on the decline. Previous studies show that coronavirus vaccines also help prevent transmission of the virus and prevent serious illness.

78,308 new cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the UK over the past seven days, an 11% decrease from the previous weekly count. The number of deaths in the past seven days (3,362 deaths) is also 27% lower than in the past seven days. Hospital stays are also decreasing.

– CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.

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Robert Dunfee