Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Further measures for England as new virus variant found - rte

Further measures for England as new virus variant found

Millions more people in England will face escalated Covid-19 lockdown measures from St Stephen's Day, as ministers acknowledged mounting concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the variant coronavirus was spreading at a "dangerous rate" as he announced the fresh Tier 4 restrictions.

He also said cases of another new mutant coronavirus linked to South Africa had been found in Britain, and imposed new travel restrictions for the country.

Mr Hancock's announcement came as a further 40,000 cases were confirmed across the UK, as well as 744 deaths - the highest number since April.

Areas moving to the toughest Tier 4 measures, where there is a stay at home order, from St Stephen's Day include Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

Other areas include parts of Essex that are not yet in Tier 4, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton.

Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire as well as Cheshire and Warrington will all be escalated to Tier 3.

Cornwall and Herefordshire move from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

Mr Hancock told a Downing Street press conference: "Just as we had got a tiered system in place that was able to control this virus we have discovered a new, more contagious virus - a variant that is spreading at a dangerous rate."

He said both are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the last few weeks.

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