Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a complete lockdown on London and large parts of south-east England and has told audiences across the country to avoid travel, in a desperate attempt to stop a new strain of coronavirus which is spreading rapidly in the UK.
After emergency talks with his top officials, Johnson called off plans to ease restrictions on the pandemic for five days during the holidays. Domestic mixing will be banned in London and the South East, and socialization will be limited to Christmas Day in the rest of England.
The Prime Minister announced that a new Level 4 will apply in sensitive areas around the capital from Sunday, with all non-essential shops closed, millions ordered to stay at home and all travel abroad prohibited except for essential purposes. Johnson urged people across England to “stay local” and not to travel far. He promised the new rules would be revised on December 30.
“When the virus changes its method of attack, we have to change our method of defense,” Johnson said at a press conference. “Without action, the evidence suggests infections would explode, hospitals would be overwhelmed and thousands more would lose their lives.”
Dramatic escalation in the government’s response to the pandemic was sparked by a new strain of the virus that is virtually unique to the UK Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new strain may spread much faster than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge increase in infections in the UK. The last days.
The rates of COVID-19 cases have nearly doubled in London over the past week, with nearly 60% of these infections being attributed to the new strain of the virus, government officials say.
|Level 4 London foreclosure rules from December 20|
|* People should stay at home, unless they have to travel for work, school, health care.
* Households are largely prohibited from mixing, there will be no Christmas bubbles.
* All non-essential stores, indoor recreation and entertainment, personal care such as hair salons will close.
* Limited socialization – a person can meet from another house, in a public space outside.
* Exceptions apply to media bubbles.
* People will be advised not to enter Level 4 zones and residents of Level 4 zones should not stay overnight away from home.
* Level 4 applies to: all of London, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, most of Surrey, Bedfordshire, Luton, Hertfordshire, most of Essex
* Rules apply for two weeks, will be reviewed December 30
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the new variant was spreading faster and was probably behind the alarming rise in the number of cases in that part of the country.
“There is no current evidence to suggest that the new strain causes a higher death rate or affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said. “In light of this latest development, it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their region to reduce transmission.”
As late as Friday, Johnson refused to rule out a third lockdown in the UK to control the spread of the virus. Britain would join Italy and Austria in tightening limits during the holiday season, with all three countries facing a rapid increase in the number of cases.
The situation has deteriorated dramatically across Europe, with French President Emmanuel Macron contracting the disease and countries like Italy and Germany introducing new measures during the holiday season.
Executives are also grappling with another set of challenges just as vaccines are being rolled out.
Viruses tend to evolve or mutate quickly, especially those like influenza which require the development of new vaccines each year due to changes in key proteins. SARS-CoV-2 also changes, although usually at a slower rate than some other viruses, because it has a self-correcting mechanism that keeps its genetic sequence relatively stable.
Other variants of the coronavirus have been reported in the past, including one in mink, which is susceptible to the virus, which was feared to be highly transmissible and which has been reported to the World Health Organization. Millions of farmed mink have been slaughtered, although as of November 20, the WHO said the most disturbing strain linked to animals was no longer circulating in humans.
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