The leader of UK’s main opposition Labour Party has called on the prime minister to implement a new national lockdown within the next 24 hours, as daily coronavirus cases surpassed 50,000 for the sixth day in a row.

“It’s no good the prime minister hinting that further restrictions are coming into place in a week or two or three. That delay has been the source of so many problems,” Sir Keir Starmer told local media on Sunday.

“So I say bring in those restrictions now, national restrictions within the next 24 hours. That has to be the first step to controlling the virus.”

He added: “We cannot allow the prime minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in a national lockdown which is inevitable. Do it now.”

Earlier in the day, premier Boris Johnson in an interview with the BBC warned of further restrictions in the coming weeks.

“It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that may be tougher. I’m fully reconciled to that,” he said. “I think the whole country is fully reconciled to that.”

A new coronavirus variant said to be more contagious has pushed infection rates in the UK to sixth highest in the world. Government data showed that 54,990 more people tested positive, while 454 died of the novel virus in the past 24 hours.

The overall caseload has crossed 2.66 million, including 75,136 related deaths.

Many parts of England are already under Tier 4 restrictions, which involves the closure of shops not selling non-essential items and places like gyms and swimming pools.

The country began the COVID-19 vaccination drive on Dec. 8. It has inoculated nearly a million people so far, according to a global tracking website affiliated with Oxford University.

*With additional input from News Desk in Ankara

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