Scotland locking down again, while Boris Johnson considers England's options

Scotland locking down again, while Boris Johnson considers England's options

Johnson stressed that Britain was leading the way with the introduction of two vaccines, including one from Oxford University and AstraZeneca which started its rollout on Monday.

But there will be a "time lag" between vaccinating patients and the pressure on the NHS easing, Johnson said, adding that he is "cautious about the timetable ahead".

Also on Monday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland would enter a new lockdown from midnight on Monday, as well as a shutdown of schools until February 1.

Scotland's semiautonomous government announced a new lockdown Monday for at least the rest of the month.

He revealed that the number of hospital patients has increased to nearly 27,000, almost a third higher than the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in April 2020. The variant has been sweeping through England, threatening to overwhelm an already strained health care system.

A-Levels and GCSEs will be cancelled, a government source confirmed to BBC News - although vocational exams will go ahead.

The Premier League and other elite sports, including rugby's Gallagher Premiership, have strict testing regimes in place.

The first time around, Britain kept its borders open to worldwide travel.

"I'm incredibly anxious about the South African variant, and that's why we took the action that we did to restrict all flights from South Africa", Mr Hancock told BBC Radio on Monday.

In the short-term, Hancock suggested the first move may be to move areas now still in England's tier 3 up into the strictest level.

The UK's component nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each implement their own COVID-19 responses, although they are increasingly trying to coordinate their actions and responses - especially because of the new variant of the coronavirus, which is thought to be more transmissible. The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives, a Downing Street spokesperson said, confirming that the UK Prime Minister would address the nation later on Monday evening to set out the changes.

Johnson's government earlier touted a scientific "triumph" as Britain became the first country in the world to start vaccinating its population with Oxford University and AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shot. Authorities have recorded more than 50,000 new infections a day since passing that milestone for the first time on December 29.

Under the lockdown, people are only allowed to go to work if it's impossible to work from home, such as construction workers.

All nonessential shops and personal care services like hairdressers will be closed, and restaurants can only operate takeout services.

The U.K. House of Commons will be recalled on Wednesday to allow MPs to debate and vote on the new England-wide measures. Opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer said the country should immediately return to a full lockdown, and unions on Monday called for employers to offer parents paid time off to cope with childcare if schools remain closed.

The announcement overshadowed the first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine given to a member of the public outside a clinical trial. Officials said hundreds of new vaccination sites - including local doctors' offices - will open later this week, joining the more than 700 vaccination sites already in operation.

British media reported in recent days that the majority of the seven Nightingale hospitals had been dismantled or were not being used as cases began to climb in the country again - prompting many to question why. In particular, it doesn't require the super-cold storage needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

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