Late on Tuesday, September 8, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that social gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England from Monday, September 14, due to a rise in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The restriction applies indoors and outdoors throughout England, with the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland responsible for setting their own measures. In a preview ahead of a full address on Wednesday, September 9, it was stated that the ban will not apply to schools and workplaces, as well as weddings, funerals, and organized team sports that are held with existing COVID-19 guidelines. Further details on exemptions are expected to be announced in the address on Wednesday. Those found in breach of the measures could face a fine of GBP 100, doubling on repeat offenses up to GBP 3200. There have been 8396 new confirmed COVID-19 cases since Sunday, September 6, with 2460 on Tuesday alone. Sunday saw the highest number of cases reported since May, with 2988 cases recorded.
Also on Tuesday, the UK government introduced a further tightening of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) controls for the town of Bolton (Greater Manchester). Additional restrictions had already been introduced on Sunday, following an increase in COVID-19 cases. These included residents being asked to only use public transportation for essential purposes, such as travel for education, work, shopping, and medical care, as well as to not mix with other households, indoors or outdoors. Health Secretay Matt Hancock announced the decision to tighten restrictions further and reported that the infection rate in the town had risen to 120 cases per 100,000. The new measures coming into force immediately from Tuesday are that all food and drink hospitality establishments will only be able to provide takeaway services; all venues, including takeaways, will be required to close from 22:00 to 05:00 (local time); and it will become illegal for people to socialize with those from outside their own household, whether indoors or outdoors. Schools will remain open despite the tightening of restrictions.
Many restrictions have been lifted in the UK, and the government is now focusing on using contact tracing to identify areas where the virus is spreading. The wearing of face masks is mandatory in certain public areas, with fines for repeat offenders rising up to 3200 GBP (4175 USD). Further information regarding the wearing of face masks in the UK can be found here.
The UK is also using infection rates in other countries to regularly make amendments to the list of countries that are exempt from a required 14-day self-isolation period on arrival in the UK. Seven Greek islands were the latest region to be removed from the exemption list for England on Monday, September 7. Countries from where quarantine is required vary for the four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). A full list of countries where travelers arriving in England will be exempt from quarantine measures can be found here.
As of September 8, there have been 349,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK with 41,640 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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