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People's Daily Online

UK lawmakers overwhelmingly approve England lockdown

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:47, January 07, 2021

LONDON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- British lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the government's decision to impose the new national lockdown in England, the third of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic began in the country.

Following a four-hour debate in the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament, MPs approved the lockdown by 524 votes to 16.

The House of Commons was recalled from its Christmas recess to debate and retrospectively voted on the lockdown which has already been in force since it was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson Monday evening.

Earlier Wednesday, Johnson told MPs that the easing of England's national lockdown would be a "gradual unwrapping" and not a "big bang".

He told MPs that the government will use "every available second" of the lockdown to place an "invisible shield" around elderly and vulnerable people through the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks.

MPs were also told that the lockdown regulations will be kept under continuous review, with a legal obligation to remove them once they are no longer needed.

With Johnson's comfortable majority in parliament, coupled with an announcement by main opposition leader Keir Starmer that Labour would back the national lockdown, victory in the vote was guaranteed.

In his statement, Johnson also justified his decision to close all schools from Tuesday, just a day after they had re-opened after the Christmas vacation.

"The government had to close schools because they could serve as a vector, allowing the virus to spread to others," Johnson said, adding he had been keen to keep children in school.

Also on Wednesday, Britain reported a further 1,041 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, the highest since April, official figures showed. This brought the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain to 77,346.

Official data also showed that the daily number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Britain hit 62,322 on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

It was the second day in a row that the number of daily confirmed cases in Britain topped 60,000. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 2,836,801.

Britain on Monday started the national rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 6, 235 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States.

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