UK notifies new COVID-19 restrictions; India plans to provide vaccination to 300 million people

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The UK is planning to put tighter coronavirus restrictions in place this weekend after scientists advised Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a new variant of the virus is spreading faster.

While Johnson stated he “bitterly regrets” introducing the restrictions, under which non-vital stores, gyms, cinemas, salons and bowling alleys will close for two weeks.

People will also be limited under the new restrictions to meeting people from other households if they do so in a public outdoor space – except on Christmas Day, when up to three households can meet over the holidays.

“The message is that this is the year to raise a glass to those who are not there, knowing that we all have a better chance of them being there next year precisely because they are not there this year to celebrate Christmas with you,” Johnson said.

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said Saturday that British health officials have informed the World Health Organization of the new strain of the virus, which health officials publicly announced earlier this week.

“As announced on Monday, the United Kingdom has identified a new variant of COVID-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance,” Whitty said.

In the meantime, as India’s COVID-19 cases surpassed 10 million people Saturday, the country announced plans to vaccinate 300 million people starting in January.

The Indian government is identifying 300 million people to receive the first doses of vaccine, CNN reported.

That group includes 270 million vulnerable people, mostly over age 50, and others with serious illnesses, as well as 30 million health care workers, police officers, soldiers and volunteers.

Three coronavirus vaccine manufacturers have applied for emergency approval, and each is requiring that the vaccines be administered in two doses, which means 600 million vaccinations.

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