The PM broke the news on Saturday that London and the south-east of England, where cases are rising, would be a lockdown, similar to the Tier 4 sanctions on Sunday.
“The virus is spreading through new variants,” Johnson said in a hasty press conference. “It appears to spread more easily and may be 70% more permeable than earlier stresses.”
“It’s spreading very fast now,” Johnson warned. “It is with a heavy heart that I say we cannot continue Christmas as planned.”
Johnson underlined that in areas with the toughest restrictions, a home mix would be unlikely over Christmas. In areas under Tier 3, the mix will now be limited to Christmas Day.
As recently as this week, Johnson reiterated his pledge to relax the rules over the Christmas period, allowing three families to mix for five days. But as of Saturday, the entire country is being asked not to travel and will not be allowed to travel abroad, except for work purposes, under the highest level of restriction on them.
According to Whitty, the new version accounted for 60% of infections in London, nearly doubling in the past week.
Earlier, he said that the “urgent work” is underway to determine whether the new strain prevailing in the south-east of England may cause mortality.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain, which leads to higher mortality or affects vaccines and treatment, but immediate work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said in a statement.
Like other new variants or strains of the Kovid-19, it bears a genetic fingerprint, which makes it easy to track, and is one that is now common. This does not mean that the mutation has spread it more easily, nor does it mean that this variation is more dangerous.
Many experts in the genetics and epidemiology of the virus are noting that this may be a “lucky” strain that has been amplified due to the superspreader event; It can be a mutation in any way and spreads it more easily without causing more serious disease; Or it can happen just by coincidence.
The government’s scientific advisory group for Kovid-19 has also warned that the new strain is a “real cause for concern” and called for immediate action. Jeremy Farrar on Twitter said, “Research is underway to make more sense, but it’s important to act immediately. There is no part of the UK and globally that shouldn’t be worried. As the situation is fragile in many countries.”
Whitty also urged people to be more careful. “Given this latest development, it is now more important than ever that the public continue to take action in their region to reduce transmission,” he said.
This is a developing story.