Families will have to cancel their Christmas gatherings and most stores will have to close in London and much of the south of England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday as he imposed a new, tighter level of coronavirus restrictions on the region Contain rapidly spreading infections

Johnson said Saturday that the capital and other areas of southern England currently under Tier 3, the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, will be moving to an even more stringent new Tier 4, stores that are not strictly necessary to close , Hairdressers and indoor recreational facilities are required after business hours on Saturdays

With just a few days until Christmas, Johnson also announced that a planned relaxation of socialization rules would have allowed up to three households to meet in “Christmas bubbles” from December 23 to Dec 27 will be deleted for Tier 4 areas and severely restricted in the rest of England

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you that we cannot continue Christmas as planned,” said Johnson

He said he had concluded that “I have no alternative,” and people must sacrifice this Christmas for a better chance of protecting the lives of their loved ones

“I know how much emotion people put into this time of year and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren,” said Johnson

“But if the virus changes its method of attack, we have to change our method of defense”

A fast-moving new variant of the coronavirus that is more than 70 percent more transmissible than existing strains appears to be fueling rapid spread in London and southern England, Johnson said London now has the highest infection rates in England

“There is no evidence that it is more deadly or causes more serious illness,” he pointed out, or that vaccines are less effective against it

Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of England, said the UK alerted the World Health Organization that the new variant identified this week appears to be accelerating the spread of COVID-19, based on preliminary modeling figures that the government’s scientific advisors have reached, and continue to analyze the available data, he said

We are in close contact with UK officials on the new # COVID19 variant of the virus you will continue to use Share information through &amp Results of their analysis & ongoing studies We will update the &amp member states public when we learn more about the properties of this virus variant & any implications

Viruses mutate regularly, and scientists have found thousands of different mutations in samples of the virus that cause COVID-19, however, many of these changes have no effect on how easily the virus spreads or how severe the symptoms are

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19, told reporters after receiving a notification from England this week that the United Nations Health Department “has no evidence that this variant behaves otherwise” and that it was similar to an originally reported variant among mink in Europe. She said scientists would study the strain of the virus to see if there was a difference in how it elicited an immune response in humans

Wales and Northern Ireland, which have their own decentralized governments and independent rules to fight the virus, announced new lockdowns as early as after Christmas

UK Officials reported another 28 on Friday507 confirmed cases and 489 human deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the virus The UK has Europe’s second highest COVID-19 death toll after Italy and was 66 on Saturday541

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New Covid strain, new Covid strain

World news – CA – UK Imposes Tighter COVID-19 Restrictions in England Amid Rising Cases of New Virus Strains | CBC news

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/britain-uk-coronavirus-mutation-strain-spread-covid-19-1.5848800