LONDON

The UK on Tuesday registered 60,916 new coronavirus virus cases over the past 24 hours, a new all-time high since the start of the pandemic.

The government data released on the first day of England’s third national lockdown also showed that 830 deaths were reported in the country over the past day.

The total number of cases in the country topped 2.7 million, with the death toll reaching 76,305.

Speaking at a news conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that over 2% of the population are now infected, and the number of patients in hospitals in England is now 40% higher than the first peak of the pandemic in April.

Johnson added that 1.3 million people across the UK had now been given a vaccine from either Pfizer or Oxford.

He repeated his pledge from yesterday that by Feb. 15 those in the top four highest-priority groups would receive the vaccine.

Hundreds of new locations to deploy the vaccine will be set up, including seven vaccination centers in sports and exhibition centers next week.

Daily vaccine data updates will be available starting Monday.

Michael Gove, a government minister, told Sky News that the restrictions should start to be lifted around March.

“We will keep these [restrictions] constantly under review but you are absolutely right, we can’t predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing February 15-22,” he told Sky News.

“What we will be doing is everything that we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated, so that we can begin to progressively lift restrictions,” he said.

“I think it is right to say that as we enter March we should be able to lift some of these restrictions, but not necessarily all.”

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced earlier in the day that businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors can apply for one-off grants of £9,000 ($12,269) to help them through the new lockdown.

The money was part of a £4.6 billion ($6.27 billion) package Sunak put together to help businesses after the decisions to lock down in England and Scotland.

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