British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared a total national lockdown as the number of COVID-19 cases has risen exponentially after a new, faster-spreading variant of the virus was identified in the country in December.

The announcement was made on a live television broadcast Monday night amid cases of explosions and hospitalizations nationwide.

In the televised announcement, the prime minister said schools would be closed to all but vulnerable children and the children of essential workers from Tuesday, a day after most elementary schools resumed after the Christmas break, while only essential businesses would remain open.

Johnson said that; “Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than ever before,”