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England is going back to a full national lockdown in an effort to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by a contagious new mutation, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday.
The new “stay at home” order will go into effect Wednesday and is expected to last until at least mid-February.
“With most of the country already under extreme measures, it’s clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,” Johnson in a televised address.
“In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown.”
The measures, similar to those imposed at the beginning of the pandemic in March, mean that people will be urged to stay home, school buildings will be closed and non-essential businesses shuttered.
Johnson said the new virus variant was spreading in a “frustrating and alarming way,” putting a strain on the nation’s healthcare system.
“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” he said.
The government hopes the lockdown will help curb surging COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
As of Monday, 22,626 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the country, up 30 percent from a week ago. That number of patients was also 40 percent above the highest level during the first wave of the illness in the spring.
Authorities have also recorded more than 50,000 new infections each day since Dec. 29. On Monday, there were 407 deaths from the virus, pushing the toll to 75,431.
On Monday, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon also imposed a lockdown there until the end of January.
With Post wires
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