UK records new high of 60,000 daily Covid-19 cases

More than 1 million infected as Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders third national lockdown

As Europe shuts down again, how can they fight the pandemic this time round?

As Europe shuts down again, how can they fight the pandemic this time round?
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Britain hit a daily record of more than 60,000 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, while the government set a target of 13 million vaccinations by mid-February.

The number of daily infections regularly passed 50,000 during the New Year but it has now reached 60,919. Figures show there were 830 deaths in the past 24 hours.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Britain would bring in new measures to test international travellers and increase its vaccination programme.

About 1.3 million people have been vaccinated in the UK so far.

Officials said 2 per cent of the UK population, or more than one million people, have the virus after the number of infections rose by 70 per cent in the last two weeks of 2020.

There are almost 30,000 people in hospital suffering from Covid-19 and Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said that more people contracting the disease means more will die.

At the height of the pandemic’s first wave last spring, the maximum number of daily cases did not exceed 7,000.

The latest surge came as Mr Johnson enforced a third national lockdown for England, which could last until March.

Scientists questioned on Tuesday if the new measures were enough to curtail the infection rate.

“You all want to be sure that we in government are now using every second of this lockdown to put that invisible shield around the elderly and the vulnerable in the form of vaccination, and so to begin to bring this crisis to an end,” Mr Johnson said.

“Yes, it is a huge effort. It’s the biggest vaccination programme in the history of this country.”

Britain has expanded its inoculation campaign by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Tuesday that the relaxation of lockdown rules depended on the pace of vaccinations.

Mr Gove said the UK faced a “race against time” to vaccinate as many people as possible over the next few months before ministers could look at easing restrictions in March.

That would take into account the three-week lag for immunity to begin after the initial injection.

The UK also announced £4.6 billion ($6.23bn) in new lockdown grants to help businesses survive the latest restrictions.

Companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 after business groups and unions said significant job cuts were inevitable without more help.

Mr Johnson announced the new order to stay at home on Monday night as he said the health system was less than three weeks away from being overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.

The measures will be reviewed in mid-February.

The World Health Organisation said the need for a lockdown was shared around Europe and in the US.

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said there was no end in sight for a pandemic that has already killed more than 1.85 million people.

“This idea that seems to be ‘Ah, we’re all sick of it,' and 'This doesn’t apply to me’, that’s got to go away," Ms Harris said.

"It really is all hands on deck. We’re at intense pandemic in Europe, intense pandemic in the US.

"The more you can bring the transmission down, the better chance you have of your vaccination strategy working.”