Britain marked one year since British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first coronavirus lockdown in the country last year.
On March 23, 2020, Johnson unveiled measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. A total of 126,172 people have died so far from Covid-19, according to the latest official figures, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
A national minute’s silence was held at midday as part of a day of reflection. Britons are also encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 20:00 GMT with phones, candles and torches to remember the past year.
Johnson said in a statement: “The last 12 months has taken a huge toll on us all, and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones.”
“Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year — one of the most difficult in our country’s history,” he added.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that the past year has been “probably the hardest year in a generation” but treatments and vaccines now provided “hope”.
Nearly 28 million people in Britain have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures. Johnson has said Britain was “on course” to vaccinate the top nine priority groups, including all over-50s, by April 15, despite the vaccine supply shortage next month.
On Monday, Johnson warned a recent surge in Covid-19 cases across Europe would impact Britain.
“People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, I’m afraid it washes up on our shores as well,” he said.
“I suspect we will feel those effects in due course, that’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination program as fast as we can,” he added.
National Health Service (NHS) England has warned that Britain is going to face a “significant reduction” in vaccine supplies from March 29 onwards.
Hancock said a need to retest 1.7 million vaccine doses as well as delays to doses arriving from India are the reasons why Britain is facing a “tighter” supply in Covid jabs next month. But the British government insisted that the country is on course to offer all adults a dose by the end of July.
Experts have warned Britain is “still not out of the woods” amid concerns over new variants and the risks of the public breaching restriction rules.
On February 22, Johnson announced his long-anticipated “roadmap” exiting the lockdown, the third of its kind since the start of the pandemic. The March 8 reopening of schools was first part of the four-step plan which is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June.
Other parts of Britain, including Wales and Northern Ireland, have also unveiled plans to ease the restrictions.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.