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Since the pandemic started last year, the entire UK has made great national efforts to fight Covid

And there is no doubt that our combined efforts to fight the old variant of the virus have been successful and would continue to work

But we now have a new variant of the virus. It was both frustrating and alarming to see the rate at which the new variant was spreading

Our scientists have confirmed that this new variant is between 50 and 70 percent more transmissible – which means you’ll catch and pass on the virus a lot more often

As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than they have ever been since the start of the pandemic

In England alone, the number of Covid patients in hospitals has fallen by almost a third to almost 27 in the last week000 increased

On 29 December was more than 80 across the UK000 people tested positive for Covid – a new record

The number of deaths has risen 20 percent in the past week and will unfortunately continue to rise. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones

With most of the country already facing extreme measures, it is clear that we must do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out

In England we have to go into a national lockdown that is tough enough to curb this variant

You may only leave the house for legally permissible reasons, e.g. B. to buy essentials to work, when you absolutely cannot work from home, to play sports, to get medical help, e.g. B. to get a Covid test or to escape household abuse

If you are extremely clinically susceptible we recommend starting shielding again and you will receive a letter shortly about what this means for you

And because we must do everything now to stop the spread of the disease, elementary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote care starting tomorrow, with the exception of vulnerable children and children of key workers

We understand that this means that it is not possible or fair for all exams to run as normal this summer. The Minister of Education will work with Ofqual to make alternative arrangements

We will be providing additional support to ensure that students who are eligible for free school meals continue to receive them after schools are closed, and we will be distributing more distance learning support equipment

I fully understand the inconvenience and hardship this late change will cause to millions of parents and students across the country

Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably wonder why we didn’t make this decision sooner

The answer is simply that we have done everything in our power to keep schools open because we know the importance of every day in education to children’s life chances

And I would like to emphasize that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children – it is still very unlikely that children are severely affected even by the new variant of Covid

The problem is that schools can still act as transmission vectors, allowing the virus to spread between households

Today the UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommended that the country move to Alert Level 5 If no action is taken, NHS capacity may be overloaded within 21 days

So far we have vaccinated more people in the UK than the rest of Europe combined

With the arrival of the British Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine today, the rate of vaccination is accelerating

Tonight I can share with you the NHS realistic expectations for the vaccination program in the coming weeks

By mid-February, when things are going well and a good wind is in our sails, we expect to have given the first dose of vaccine to all of the top priority groups in the four top priority groups set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. p>

This means that all residents of an older adult care home and their caregivers will be vaccinated, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social workers, and anyone who is at extreme clinical risk

If we manage to vaccinate all of these groups, we will have removed a large number of people from the path of the virus

And of course that will allow us to remove many of the restrictions we have been through for so long

I must emphasize that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a two to three week delay from a sting to obtaining immunity

And there will be another time lag before the pressure on the NHS is released

Then I hope that we can steadily move out of the lockdown, reopen the schools after the half-year in February and cautiously start moving regions downwards

I want to tell everyone across the UK that I know how hard this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough government guidance on how to fight this virus

You should start following the new rules that will become law in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Parliament will meet later in the day – largely remotely

I know that the decentralized administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland share my belief that this is a crucial moment and that they are taking similar steps

The coming weeks will be the toughest, but I really believe we are entering the final phase of the fight

Because with every push that goes into our arms we tilt the odds against Covid and in favor of the British people

And thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight and we know exactly how to get there

But I’m afraid you have to stay home for the time being, protect the NHS, and save lives

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World News – UK – Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation: 4 January 2021

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-address-to-the-nation-4-january-2021