Britain Sunday became the ninth country with more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases.
According to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, as of early Sunday, Britain had 1,014,794 infections and 46,645 deaths.
After resisting mounting calls for weeks to impose a national lockdown as COVID-19 cases were rising, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Saturday joined his counterparts in France, Germany and Belgium in ordering a nationwide shutdown.
New national lockdown restrictions will go into effect across England Thursday and last for a month. Wales announced a lockdown last week, and Scottish leaders say the next few days will be critical for Scotland to avoid a lockdown.
However, schools and universities as well as courts are to stay open. The construction industry will also be allowed to operate. There will, however, be no household mixing, and nonessential stores as well as pubs and restaurants are to close. Employers will be asked to encourage their employees to work from home where possible.
Meanwhile, the United States remains the country with the highest number of infections and deaths. As of Sunday morning, the U.S. had 9,127,100 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of nearly 80,000 in 24 hours, and at least 230,566 deaths, with over 850 dead in the last 24 hours. according to Johns Hopkins.
The U.S. is followed by India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina, Colombia and the most recent one, Britain, with 1 million or more cases of the coronavirus each.
The rising tide of new coronavirus cases worldwide is forcing leaders elsewhere to consider new lockdown measures to contain an increase in infections.
In Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Saturday that bars, cafes, movie theaters and gyms across much of the country would be shut down beginning Tuesday. Most of the affected areas are in northern Greece and in the Athens area.
On Friday, Belgium imposed a partial lockdown aimed at controlling the pandemic that has hit the country harder than any other in the 27-nation European Union, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Belgium has a high ratio of infection, 1,600 cases per 100,000 people. In comparison, Spain and Italy have ratios less than a third of that. In addition, hospitals in Belgium have almost reached capacity.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide monthlong lockdown, effective Friday, with restaurants, bars, cafes and other nonessential businesses closed. Citizens can leave their homes only for work, shopping and doctor appointments.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a set of similar measures in her own monthlong lockdown, which takes effect Monday. In addition to restaurants and bars, all gyms, theaters and opera houses will be closed under Merkel’s order, while most businesses, shops and hair salons will be allowed to remain open.
Schools in both nations will remain open during their respective lockdowns.
European countries, meanwhile, are calling on the global community to grant the World Health Organization greater authority to independently investigate outbreaks after the pandemic exposed the agency’s deficiencies.
The WHO does not have the authority to independently investigate epidemics, forcing it to rely on countries to approve their lists of suggested experts and to abide by the agendas developed by them.
As of Sunday morning, there were over 46.1 million total coronavirus cases worldwide, including nearly 1.2 million COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins statistics.