Representative image | Photo credit: IANS
The British capital will be subject to the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday amid a “very strong” spike in COVID-19 cases in London and surrounding areas and a new variant of the coronavirus identified as responsible for the “fastest spread. “The British government announced it in Parliament on Monday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told House of Commons lawmakers that “swift and decisive action” was needed as the doubling rate of the deadly virus hit just seven days in many of these areas.
Level 3 restrictions, the highest level in England’s three-tier system, mean an almost complete lockdown, with people allowed to meet those with whom they don’t just live in outdoor settings and hospitality venues headed to close except than for take-out and deliveries.
“A new variant of the coronavirus has been identified in the UK, which could be associated with the fastest spread in south-east England,” Hancock said.
“We don’t know to what extent this is due to the new variant, but regardless of its cause, do we need to take swift and decisive action which is sadly absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is being rolled out? to move the curve? because when the virus moves fast, we have to move fast too, “he said.
The minister said experts have identified over 1,000 cases with the variant, mostly in the south of England. “Cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas and the number is increasing rapidly. Similar variants have been identified in other countries in recent months,” he said, adding that the World Health Organization was informed of the variant. and that it is unlikely to cause more serious disease than other variants of the coronavirus.
He stressed that mobile and community testing is also being expanded, with 67 more local authorities testing community this week to help areas “level down” and get closer to normal life.
Referring to the launch of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine currently underway, Hancock said thanks to science “help is on the way”, but “it’s not over yet”.
Monday’s announcement means that even before the formal tier system review date scheduled for Wednesday, Greater London, South and West of Essex and South Hertfordshire will be listed in Tier 3 from 0001 GMT on Wednesday morning.