COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The virus reached the UK in late January 2020. As of 11 November 2021, there had been 9,637,190 confirmed cases, the most in Europe and fifth highest number worldwide, and 145,586 deaths among people who had recently tested positive. The UK has the world's 7th highest death toll, 26th highest death rate by population and second-highest death toll in Europe after Russia. There has been some disparity between the outbreak's severity in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – health-care in the UK is a devolved matter. Each constituent country has its own publicly-funded healthcare system operated by devolved governments.The virus was known to have spread to the UK by early 2020. The country's response included a public information campaign and certain expansions to government powers, but was otherwise slow to introduce preventative measures, increase testing or prepare for an outbreak. From March 2020 onwards, the government introduced restrictions across the UK on aspects of life such as people's freedom of movement, education, and leisure activities. Police were empowered to enforce the measures, and the Coronavirus Act 2020 gave all four governments emergency powers not used since the Second World War. These restrictions were eased and tightened periodically, and there was some variance in restrictions between the four countries of the UK and more localised rules were also introduced. In the early days of the pandemic, the health services worked to raise hospital capacity and set up temporary critical care hospitals, but faced shortages of personal protective equipment. In late 2020, a new more infectious variant of the virus emerged in the UK, causing another wave in infections over the winter that was deadlier than the first. The country's vaccination programme was the first to start in December 2020 and was in early 2021 one of the fastest in the world. The highly transmissible Delta variant arrived in the UK and drove a third wave of infections in mid-2021 that increased into the autumn, although high vaccination rates led to a substantially lower mortality rate than previous waves.In addition to the major strain on the UK's healthcare service and a substantial fall in life expectancy, the pandemic has had a severe impact on the UK's economy, caused major disruptions to education and had far-reaching impacts on society.

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