UK to impose tougher curbs as it rolls out first AstraZeneca shots

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday that he would impose tougher restrictions on England shortly to contain a rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak.

Cases of Covid-19 have risen sharply in Britain in recent weeks, fuelled by a new and more transmissible variant. On Sunday, there were nearly 55,000 new cases. In total, more than 75,000 people with Covid-19 have died – the second-highest toll in Europe.

Visiting a hospital to see the first people receive the vaccine made by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, Mr Johnson said the country faced “tough, tough” weeks to come. “If you look at the numbers, there’s no question that we’re going to have to take tougher measures and we’ll be announcing those in due course,” he said. “We’ve got the virus really surging.”

England is currently divided into four tiers of restrictions, with the vast majority of the territory in tiers three and four where social mixing is restricted and restaurants and pubs are closed. Mr Johnson also indicated they may need to rethink a plan to reopen schools for students aged between 11 and 18.

Britain yesterday touted a scientific “triumph” as dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, who has kidney disease, became the first person to get the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot outside of a trial.

“I am so pleased to be getting the Covid vaccine today and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford,” Mr Pinker, a retired maintenance manager, said just a few hundred metres from where the vaccine was developed.


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