London – almost half England is under the most severe lockdown in the country Procedures, and people have been ordered to stay home, but the Coronavirus is still spreading at an alarming rate. Hospitals are treating more patients than ever before during the pandemic, the number of new infections has set a record daily, and there is a growing debate about allowing tens of thousands of students to return to classrooms after vacation.
The nation’s scholars said that more than that apparently Contagious variant From the virus the number of cases has increased, and with strict restrictions already in place for more than 48 million people, it remains unclear what other tools the government has to control the outbreak.
There were 53,135 new Laboratory confirmed cases have been reported Tuesday, the highest number so far in a single day. The National Health Service said there are now more than 20,000 people in English hospitals, more than there were at the height of the epidemic in April.
With the government set to meet to assess its restrictions on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to impose another national lockdown and relocate students – especially those older than them in colleges and high schools. Who may be more susceptible to infection with the new virus For distance learning.
Some are hoping to see the daily drop in the number of cases due to restrictions in London and southern and eastern England around Christmas Start to sway.
But a strong combination of a new strain of the virus, an imminent return to schools, and a measure that allows people in less-risk areas to meet indoors on Christmas Day has raised fears of a worse prospect in the new year.
Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, told the BBC: « We are entering a very dangerous new phase of the epidemic, and we will need early and decisive national action to prevent disaster in January and February. » .
A growing body of research supports the concern that the new virus variant may be more than 50 percent more contagious than the rapidly spreading species already in widespread circulation.
The change continued to appear in countries around the world despite bans imposed by dozens of countries on British travelers.
The British government has turned to a now-familiar arsenal of tools to keep the swing under control, increasing restrictions on movement, shutting down businesses, and limiting the number of people allowed to congregate.
While officials blame the variable for the high number of cases, many of the rules are difficult to enforce on a large scale and it is difficult to know what role individual behavior might play.
Mr Johnson’s handling of the pandemic was marked by last-minute decisions and setbacks, arousing public suspicion and outrage, but the government tried to keep schools open.
Since the summer, the government has prioritized keeping students in classrooms, even in areas with major outbreaks and during The second national lockdown in the country In November. After students spent the first months of the pandemic in online classrooms from home, in August Mr. Johnson called Schools reopen « It is a moral imperative » and he promised that if the virus re-emerges, « the last thing we want to do is close schools. »
Britain’s approach was similar to that of the Many European countries The leaders feared that once again closing schools would exacerbate inequality and that it could not be fixed Academic harm to children And emotional development.
But with the increase in the number of cases of Coronavirus, Germany And the Netherlands They are closing schools and many British teachers are demanding that.
The government promised a surprise return to schools in January and said it would rely on mass testing to prevent the virus from spreading in schools, using the military to help.
Although some 1500 soldiers were put on standby To provide schools with « the guidance, materials and funding they need to deliver rapid tests to their staff and students from the start of the semester, » according to UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, most of the support will be provided remotely, through online sessions and by phone.
Most school children will be required to wipe themselves, supervised by a school employee or volunteer.
« 1,500 soldiers taking part in webinars are probably not the government’s response we were looking for, » said Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders, a federation. He told the BBC.
The nation’s two largest educational unions – the National Education Federation and NASUWT – also criticized the last-minute nature of the mass testing plan and wrote to Mr Johnson on Monday, calling for additional safety measures and more time to put it in place. .
The nation’s science advisory group, known as SAGE, has recommended that classes not be allowed to reopen, according to it British news reports.
Scientists have said that cases of Coronavirus in Britain will spiral out of control unless schools close in the new year. The Scientific Advisory Group believes that school closures in January will reduce the number of infected people.
Even as the country’s health workers find themselves under increasing pressure to address the influx of patients, they are also required to speed up The most ambitious comprehensive vaccination program In the history of the nation.
About 200,000 people get the first shot of Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine every week. With the approval of Prof. Vaccine from AstraZeneca and University of Oxford Expected in the coming days, the number of available doses is likely to increase dramatically.
There is no evidence that vaccines are less effective against the type of virus circulating in Britain, and it remains the country’s best chance to break the back of the current wave of infections.
But to fulfill the government’s promise to vaccinate everyone over 50 by spring, the speed of delivery must be ten times faster than it is now.
Nick Davies, assistant professor of mathematical modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said rapid pollination should mitigate the impact of the new surrogate.
“Achieving two million vaccines per week could reduce the burden dramatically,” he said He wrote on Twitter. The current level of 200,000 per week « has little impact ».
This will require not only the supply, but the workforce to deliver the vaccines. This means more pressure on health workers.
Dr.. Rebecca Lewis, London Hospital Surgeon and Secretary Doctors SyndicateDescribe how health care workers are exhausted, with little time to recover. She said staff sickness has reached critical levels. She said requirements for the use of protective equipment have not yet been reviewed in light of the new strain, and it may play a role in infecting frontline workers with the virus.
Dr. Lewis said Tuesday that the launch of vaccination in the country needs to be accelerated, adding that in addition to the elderly and the frail, vaccinating doctors should be a priority.
Dr. Lewis said she expected worse days to come.
« We know mid-January is going to be horrible, » she said.
Books by Mark Santora from London and Anna Schaffin from Brighton, England.