London, Dec 6 (IANS) Another 15,539 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,705,971, according to official figures.
The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 397 to 61,014, the data showed on Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.
The figures came as Britain’s chief medical officers warned Saturday that the coming winter would be “especially hard” for the health service due to coronavirus despite hopes brought by vaccines.
“Although the very welcome news about vaccines means that we can look forward to 2021 with greater optimism, vaccine deployment will have only a marginal impact in reducing numbers coming into the health service with COVID over the next three months,” the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said in a letter to colleagues.
The experts urged the public to show restraint and self-discipline, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
England is currently under a new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions that replaced the month-long national lockdown in England which ended Wednesday.
Under the new system, shops will be allowed to re-open across England, giving a Christmas bonanza to the struggling retail sector, but all bars and restaurants in the toughest Tier 3 areas will remain closed. The system put about 98 percent of England into the highest Tier 2 and 3.
However, between December 23 to 27, up to three different households are allowed to meet in a private home, a place of worship or outdoor public spaces.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.