British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has approved placing more parts of the country into tier 4 restrictions, as the country battles a new variant of COVID-19 which scientists say can spread more rapidly, The Times reported.
Ministers were considering imposing the toughest measures on parts of southwest England and Cumbria, where the variant appears to be gaining ground even though cases remain relatively low, said the report.
The Telegraph reported on Monday that Midlands and the North region in England are expected to be put into Tier 4.
Health Minister Matt Hancock will give an update on regional coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday.
Just under half of England's population, centred around London and neighbouring regions, is under the tightest form of COVID restriction. Non-essential shops and most other businesses are closed to the public, and almost all face-to-face socialising is prohibited.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Britain's government reported 53,135 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most since mass testing started in mid-2020 and up sharply from the previous record of 41,385 set on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday a leading epidemiologist who advises the government, Andrew Hayward, warned that Britain was heading toward "catastrophe" over the coming weeks if it did not take tougher action against the more infectious variant of the disease.