The major change would be that the affected areas would now be entering a Tier 4 lockdown. (Image: AP/PTI)
Coronavirus lockdown news: The United Kingdom’s plan of easing COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas has been disrupted with the emergence of new strain of the virus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced that situation in the country was deteriorating rapidly, especially in Southeast England, East of England as well as London, despite the tight restrictions placed across the country. Wanting to inform people about the reason behind this rapid spread, Johnson said that these areas were witnessing a spread driven by a new variant of the novel coronavirus.
While much was not known about the new strain yet, he said, it was clear that the government needed to act as fast as possible, which was why he held an emergency meeting with the coronavirus committee and the Cabinet to impose new restrictions. Here is what we know about the new strain.
5 things we know about new virus strain in the UK
The variant came to the notice of the British government in the last week and it is being analysed by the country’s advisory group NERVTAG. The group has spent the last few days looking into the new strain.
PM Johnson stated that the strain was causing the virus to spread at a significantly faster rate. He said that an early analysis by the NERVTAG has suggested the strain to increase the R value by 0.4, or even more.
While things are not yet clear around the strain, he said that it could cause up to a whopping 70% more transmission than the old strain of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19.
Though the strain is causing the virus to spread much faster, the PM said that the analysis has not yet pointed towards the strain being more lethal or leading to a more severe infection or illness.
The analysis has also not pointed towards anything that would suggest that the strain would render a coronavirus vaccine less effective. This means that while the variant is new, the British government is hopeful that vaccination would still be an effective solution to stop the spread.
Though he shared this information with the people of the UK, the prime minister repeatedly asserted that the virus strain was new and very limited information was available regarding it. However, he said that all the information they had was being shared with the World Health Organisation and he also expressed hope in the genomic sequencing ability of the UK, which he said was by far the best in the world and would thus, make them better equipped to identify new strains than any other country.
Coronavirus Lockdown in London: New restrictions
The major change would be that the affected areas would now be entering a Tier 4 lockdown, instead of the Tier 3 lockdown they were currently placed in. Apart from that, all the residents regardless of the tiers they are living in have been asked to stay local. Moreover, during Christmas, residents of Tier 4 areas would not be allowed to meet anyone, while the others would only be able to visit three other households only on Christmas Day now, instead of five days, as decided previously.