British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that tougher measures may be needed to combat the pandemic, including closing schools.
In an interview with BBC reporter Andrew Marr on Sunday, Johnson did not clarify what additional measures might be required and dismissed criticism that his government was too slow to act with the most contagious form of the virus spreading rapidly across the country. .
“Maybe we need to do tougher things in the next few weeks in many parts of the country,” Johnson said. “The UK is struggling with a new type of virus that is increasing particularly in London and the southeast and that is why we have had to take exceptional measures in some parts.”
One of the biggest questions facing the government now is how to manage the reopening of schools at a time when the number of HIV infections in the UK exceeds 50,000 a day. The Johnson administration is trying to keep personal classrooms in England going throughout the pandemic, and the prime minister on Sunday sought to reassure parents that schools are safe and that the virus does not pose a major threat to young people.
“We’ve kept schools running for a very long time in areas where the epidemic is at very high levels,” Johnson said. “We have to keep things under constant review, but it won’t be driven by any political considerations, but entirely by the issue of public health.”
Johnson’s comments contrasted sharply with warnings from teachers’ unions, which have asked members not to return to the classroom. In London, which has one of the highest levels of Covid-19 infection per person in the country, the government has ordered all primary schools to remain closed for the start of the new semester this week.
He was forced to retreat
Throughout the pandemic, the UK government has been forced to backtrack several times on efforts to reopen the economy, especially as the virus’s return in winter has pushed public health services over the precipice. Recently, Johnson was forced to change plans that would relax social distancing rules over Christmas.
When asked about the UK’s plans for mass vaccination, Johnson did not provide any details of how the country could deliver two million vaccines per week.
He said, “Everyone is working hard to do that.” “We do Amal We will be able to achieve tens of millions over the next three months. “
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asked Parliament to be called in Edinburgh on Monday so she can put in place additional measures to curb the rise in infections. For now, schools are scheduled to return to teach face-to-face on January 18 after the long Christmas break.
Daily Covid-19 cases have risen to record levels, and Sturgeon said the country is facing its most dangerous week since the pandemic began. A public health expert at the University of Edinburgh told the BBC that the new strain causes four out of 10 new infections.
– With Rodney Jefferson’s help
(Updates with background on closure rules in the sixth paragraph.)
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