LONDON, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — Another 20,530 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 830,998, according to official figures released Friday.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 224 to 44,571, the data showed.

The latest figures were announced as Warrington, a town in northern England, is expected to move into England’s highest level of restrictions.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants in Wales have closed doors as the British region entered a “firebreak” lockdown on Friday for 17 days.

Supermarkets, off licences and pharmacies will be allowed to remain open, although supermarkets will not be able to sell products that are deemed “non-essential”, Sky News reported.

For businesses, the lockdown is a huge blow with some economists estimating it could cost as much as three quarters of a billion pounds. One pound is equal to 1.3 U.S. dollars.

The Welsh government has acknowledged the lockdown won’t see a dramatic drop in COVID-19 numbers immediately, but it hopes the “short, sharp” break will in time slow hospital admissions and transmission in the community.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Lancashire are currently on England’s highest alert level Tier Three. South Yorkshire will also move into Tier Three restrictions from Saturday.

Among other measures, the Tier Three restrictions will see closure of pubs and bars in the region unless they serve substantial meals while different households will be banned from mixing indoors and outdoors, including in private gardens.

The new three-tier COVID-19 alert system set out by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came into force last week across England as the country struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The alert system comprises three levels: ”Medium”, “High” and “Very High” with the level being decided according to local infection rates.

Earlier Friday, official figures showed that Britain’s coronavirus reproduction number, also known as the R number, has fallen slightly, but the virus is still spreading fast in the country.

The R number is now between 1.2 and 1.4, down from between 1.3 and 1.5 last week, according to the British government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

If the R number is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.

To bring life back to normal, countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines. Enditem