At the same time, it was decided to postpone the opening of schools in many parts of the country.

UK authorities have ruled out the possibility of quarantine
UK authorities have ruled out the possibility of quarantine

LONDON, December 31. / TASS /. The UK government has so far ruled out the possibility of introducing a new nationwide quarantine, but will postpone the opening of schools in many parts of the country in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Kingdom Education Minister Gavin Williamson said this on Thursday morning in an interview with Sky News.

“We have chosen the absolutely correct approach, using a flexible system of restrictions acting at the local level. It is very important to be able to weaken, and sometimes even tighten restrictions in a particular region. The system is now optimal, "the head of the department noted.

However, after the highest (fourth) level of threat of the spread of infection was introduced on Thursday in many counties of central and northern parts of England, 78% of its population (44 million people) live under the most stringent restrictions, almost equivalent to quarantine. The de facto quarantine after Christmas, which Catholics and Protestants celebrated on December 25, is in effect in Northern Ireland, Wales and most of Scotland, where more than 10.5 million people live. The tightening of restrictions is associated with the spread of a new and more infectious strain of coronavirus in the kingdom, a sharp increase in the number of cases of infection (more than 100 thousand in the last two days) and the threat of overcrowding in hospitals where there is a shortage of medical personnel. In these conditions, experts point to the need to limit the work of schools and universities in January, which have remained open since September, but such a move threatens to displease a large part of the population.

According to government assurances, 85% of primary schools will open their doors as early as next week - immediately after the end of the Christmas break. However, younger students living in areas with a particularly difficult epidemiological situation, and this is about 1 million children, will have to study online for at least two weeks. Most high school students will also switch to distance learning for one to two weeks after the end of the vacation. This should allow the country's authorities to roll out a mass testing system for coronavirus in educational institutions after the return of children to classrooms, but school officials fear that too little time has been allocated for this.

Vaccination of the population

In the fight against the pandemic, the British authorities are pinning their hopes on a vaccination program for the population, which began on December 8. The first to receive the drug are healthcare workers, people living in nursing homes and people over 80 years old. To date, more than 800,000 people have received the first of two doses of vaccine from the American company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

On Wednesday, the UK's independent Medicines and Health Products Agency was the first in the world to approve a vaccine from the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Earlier, the United Kingdom signed agreements for the supply of 100 million doses of the drug, and in total, London signed contracts for the purchase of over 350 million doses of vaccines from various manufacturers.

The UK government expects that all residents of the country over the age of 50, as well as people at increased risk of contracting the coronavirus, will be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine by the end of spring 2021. We can talk about 25 million people - almost 40% of the population of the 66 million kingdom. The head of the Ministry of Health of the country, Matt Hancock, linked the lifting of restrictions with the gradual vaccination of the population. According to the minister, the measures currently in force may remain in force for at least several months.

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