Northern Ireland has become the first region in the UK to announce a so-called circuit-breaker lockdown. The four week-long measure was announced by First Minister Arlene Foster on Wednesday and adds more pressure on the British prime minister to announce the same measure for England.

We fully appreciate that this will be a difficult and worrying news for a lot of people,” she said, adding: “The Executive has taken this decision because it is necessary, and we discussed the impacts in great details.”

The half-term school holidays have been extended from one to two weeks.

The First Minister of the devolved parliament in Wales said on Wednesday that his own administration is planning similar steps.

The UK has the highest death toll in Europe, with more than 43,000 casualties, and on Tuesday 143 deaths were reported.

PHOTO: Arlene Foster Reuters