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People's Daily Online

UK records another 35,383 coronavirus cases, 532 deaths

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 10:57, December 18, 2020

LONDON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Another 35,383 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,948,660, according to official figures released Thursday.

In a statement, the British government said on its website that the number of new cases reported on Thursday includes around 11,000 previously unreported cases for Wales as a result of system maintenance.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 532 to 66,052, the data showed.

The figures came as Britons are being urged to keep their gatherings during Christmas to a minimum this year to avoid spreading coronavirus.

In a joint statement, the British government, along with the devolved Scottish government and Welsh government, warned that a "smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas".

Despite a surge in coronavirus cases, the British government has maintained its previous decision to relax restriction rules for Christmas, between Dec. 23 to 27, allowing up to three households to get together in homes and places of worship in England.

In Wales, only two households plus an additional single person who lives alone will be allowed to meet during the five-day period. In Scotland, people are being urged to only meet on one of the five days.

Earlier Thursday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the highest Tier Three restrictions will be extended to the east and southeast of England, including such areas as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire as well as parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire. The areas that are already in Tier Three will remain there.

The new measures will come into effect at 00:01 (0001 GMT) on Saturday.

The health secretary noted that coronavirus cases have risen by 46 percent in the past week in the southeast of England and up by two-thirds in the east of England.

Meanwhile, Bristol and North Somerset will move from Tier Three to Tier Two, and Herefordshire will move from Tier Two into Tier One.

On Monday, London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire were moved into Tier Three, with the change taking effect on Wednesday. Around 68 percent of England's population, about 38 million people, will be living in Tier Three from the weekend.

Under Tier Three, bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to close, except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services.

According to the governmental guidance, Tier Three also means that local people must not socialize in a group of more than six in some outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility -- known as the "rule of six".

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

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