Just when the Scots thought they were out of the red, a new threat emerged that left authorities no other choice but to enforce another lockdown.
People around the world held hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would cease to exist on the year 2021, but instead of being left behind in 2020, researchers have found yet a new strain of the virus which is believed to be faster-spreading than its earlier counterpart.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, was quick on his feet to introduce new policies that would help contain the spread of this potent virus. These new laws will limit people’s interactions with the outside, command them to stay at home as much as possible, and even perform their professional duties at home as well.
Here are a few restrictions that are to be implemented during the lockdown:
- Outdoor gatherings will not be permitted.
- A person will only be allowed to meet with one other person from another household if needed.
- Group exercise is disallowed.
- Places of worship will be temporarily closed.
- Online schooling or remote learning will be implemented by educational institutions. No pupils will be attending schools until February.
While these new laws are set to expire by the end of January, the situation will remain under close observation, and the effectiveness of these laws may be extended if deemed necessary by the Scottish government about this lockdown.
This applies to Scottish mainland while island areas shall remain in level three. Furthermore, similar measures have been implemented in England. Prime Minister Johnson announced that schools and colleges will remain closed until mid-February, or as authorities advise.
Is The New COVID-19 Strain Much Dangerous Than The First?
Rather than being more dangerous, officials and health authorities view this new strain as a larger threat due to the lack of information on the said virus. Vaccines from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna have just been approved. However, their effectiveness against this new strain is yet to be tested and studied in-depth.
Also, as far as new data goes, this new strain is said to infect more people in less time. It’s a faster-spreading virus that could endanger tens of thousands if left uncontained. The severity of symptoms, however, have yet to be compared to the original virus.
On Monday, the 4th, a total of 1,905 cases were reported in Scotland, with the new strain responsible for half of this number. This alarming rise could breach the capacity of local hospitals in three to four weeks if left unchecked.
Under this new lockdown, people will no longer be allowed to go out for reasons other than shopping for food essentials and health necessities. They will be allowed to exercise if it does not involve interaction with other individuals. People may also hold outdoor meetings with one other person from another household, given that they follow social distancing protocols.
Weddings may be attended by a maximum of five people. On the other hand, funeral wakes will be disallowed until further notice.
Impact On Learning
Sturgeon further emphasizes the need to close schools temporarily. While getting a quality education is important, the situation makes it hazardous for students to attend school in one building. The new strain of the virus is said to “easily infect” even younger individuals which is why authorities have arrived at the decision of having educational facilities switch to remote learning.
There are challenges to remote learning, but authorities implore the cooperation of parents until schools are reopened. The sooner the virus is contained, the sooner students can go back to learning in a classroom setting. The reopening of schools is a “fundamental priority” of the government, Sturgeon adds.
Prioritizing the vaccination of educators has also already been brought up for review.
Coronavirus Vaccination in Scotland
Thus far, an estimated 100,000 people have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Scotland, and Scottish authorities believe that they will have access to 900,000 more doses by the end of the month. Ultimately, however, it will take several months before all vulnerable populations can receive the vaccine, which is why containment is the only viable solution to slow down the spread of the virus.
This fight against the new strain of the coronavirus could mean the implementation of stricter measures, however tough they may be, and the full cooperation of the masses.
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