Alarm over new Covid-19 variant places London in lockdown

Fast transmission of a newly-discovered variant of Covid-19 in London and close by areas prompted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday to place the capital beneath related restrictions that have been imposed beneath the nationwide lockdown in November, whereas relaxations allowed for Christmas have been cancelled. The brand new variant, he stated, was no much less deadly than the unique model and there’s no proof {that a} vaccine is much less efficient towards it; however he added that there’s a lot that isn’t identified about it. The World Well being Group has been knowledgeable of the event. Johnson introduced the creation of a brand new tier – Tier 4 – within the Covid-19 alert system, beneath which cities and areas in England are positioned. London has been within the high Tier Three with the hardest restrictions, however has gone additional within the lockdown-like Tier 4. The curbs take impact from Sunday morning till December 30. Johnson stated in a televised briefing from Downing Avenue, “There’s nonetheless a lot we don’t know. Whereas we’re pretty sure the variant is transmitted extra rapidly, there isn’t any proof to counsel that it’s extra deadly or causes extra extreme sickness. Equally there isn’t any proof to counsel the vaccine might be any much less efficient towards the brand new variant. “Our specialists will proceed their work to enhance our understanding of the variant. So we’re studying extra about this variant as we go. However we all know sufficient already to make sure that we should act now. “First, we are going to introduce new restrictions in probably the most affected areas – particularly these elements of London, the South East and the East of England that are at present in tier 3. These areas will enter a brand new tier 4, which might be broadly equal to the nationwide restrictions which have been in place in England in November.” Life beneath Tier Four in London and southeast England from Sunday morning might be just like the lockdown, which incorporates folks staying at house, except transferring out for exemptions allowed; non-retail retailers, gyms and leisure amenities to shut; make money working from home; folks should not journey out of Tier Four areas. Well being secretary introduced the invention of the variant in parliament on Monday, whereas Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, gave extra particulars of the variant recognized by Public Well being England’s genomic surveillance. In accordance with Whitty, this can be a “vital and harmful second”. Whitty added, “On account of the fast unfold of the brand new variant, preliminary modelling information and quickly rising incidence charges within the southeast, the New and Rising Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now considers that the brand new pressure can unfold extra rapidly. “We now have alerted the WHO and are persevering with to analyse the accessible information to enhance our understanding. There is no such thing as a present proof to counsel the brand new pressure causes a better mortality fee or that it impacts vaccines and coverings, though pressing work is underway to verify this.” Johnson stated Christmas this 12 months “might be very completely different”, including that folks in all tiers shouldn’t journey, which is able to have an effect on journey to satisfy households over the festive interval. The curbs come days after he had introduced relaxations for Christmas, which at the moment are scrapped. “As prime minister, it’s my obligation to take the tough choices, to do what is true to guard the folks of this nation. Given the early proof we now have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential danger it poses, it’s with a heavy coronary heart that I need to let you know we can not proceed with Christmas as deliberate,” Johnson stated.