Survey says new infections across U.K. falling

FILE - In this undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford, a researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Britain on Wednesday, Dec. 30, authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world.” The Department of Health said it had accepted a recommendation from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to authorize the vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca.

A closely monitored survey has found that new coronavirus infections across the U.K. have fallen sharply, just days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlines a roadmap as to how lockdown restrictions in England can be eased in the weeks and months to come.

The Office for National Statistics said in its weekly infection survey that rates of transmission have fallen across all four U.K. nations. In England, it estimated that in the week to Feb. 12, one in 115 people tested positive for COVID-19. In the previous week, the rate stood at one in 80.

A similar picture emerged in the other three nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The whole of the U.K., which has recorded the most coronavirus-related deaths in Europe at nearly 120,000, is in lockdown. Leaders are being careful about lifting lockdown restrictions, but are hoping that many can be eased from next month onwards following the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines. On Monday, Johnson is expected to allow some students to return to school on March 8.

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