Yesterday, the UK came back to life with hoards of people going shopping, getting haircuts, and of course, drinking a pint or three at outdoor pubs and beer gardens. Soon enough, the streets were packed with pub-goers, the masks were coming off, and social distancing became non-existent. Many Britons were celebrating what seemed to be freedom from the lockdown, but is it too soon to celebrate?
Packed London streets
Several areas of London, including Soho and Westminster, were infested with crowds partying on the streets as pubs opened last night. This was the first time in four months that hundreds of Britons stepped out to have a drink and things ended up getting a little wild. Police were forced to take action in many parts of the city, and they tried to enforce safety measures but to no avail.
Experts believe that though the UK is heading towards the right direction, caution should still be exercised. Lawrence Young, virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School told The Daily Mail:
So while taking the opportunity to enjoy shopping and outside hospitality, we must remain cautious - the virus is still out there and very infectious.
We can't ignore what's going on in the rest of the world - every other day new variants are being reported and infection is rife.
South African variant
While some parts of London are erupting in celebration, others have been seeing significant clusters of the South African COVID variant.
Last month, surge testing was deployed in Wandsworth, London, after several cases of the South African variant were confirmed. Similarly, in February, the variant was detected in Lambeth as well. To contain the situation, the largest surge testing was carried out in both areas on Sunday. So far, a total of 44 cases of the South African variant have been reported, with an additional 30 probable cases. According to the BBC the situation is currently under control as all of the infected people are either in isolation or have finished isolating but authorities are urging everyone in these areas to get tested, even if they have no symptoms.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
It's vital that we do everything we can to control this variant by taking a test and following the rules.