LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively locked down over 16 million people in England and reversed curb easing plans on Christmas said the UK was facing a new strain of coronavirus that up to 70% more transferable than the original

Although Johnson and his scientific advisors believe vaccines will continue to be effective and the new strain is not more deadly or serious in terms of the disease it causes, he said on Saturday the government needed to take urgent action

The number of cases in England has increased in the past two weeks due to the virus variant

Tearing up plans to allow three households to mingle indoors for five days during the holiday season, Johnson said that London and south-east England, currently at the top of a three-tier system of rules, are now admitted to the house would be a new level of level 4, similar to a recent national lockdown

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you that we cannot continue Christmas as planned,” Johnson said at a press conference. “I sincerely believe that I have no alternative”

Individuals in Tier 4 – 164 million and approximately one-third of the population of England are required to stay home except for essential reasons such as work and non-essential retail stores are closed, as well as indoor recreational and entertainment options

Social mixing is limited to meeting another person in an outdoor area. The new rules come into effect on Saturday from midnight

Johnson, whose initial response to the pandemic was criticized for being too slow, had defied calls to change plans for the Christmas relaxation, saying on Wednesday it was “frankly inhuman” to ban it

Those who are now in Tier 4 are not allowed to mix with others over Christmas And everyone else in England is now only allowed to see friends and family on Christmas Day, December 25

“At this time of national crisis, the British people want clear, determined leadership,” opposition leader Keir Starmer said on Twitter. “All we get from Boris Johnson is confusion and indecision”

Within minutes of Johnson’s announcement, shoppers were taking to the streets for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts and supplies

“It was pretty quiet all day, then suddenly there was this crowd of people,” said a salesman in a large department store in Westfield shopping center in West London, one of the largest in Europe

The other nations of Great Britain, whose response to the pandemic is at times different from that of England, have also taken action

Scotland said Saturday it would put a travel ban on the rest of the UK and Christmas relief would be limited to December only 25 All of Wales will be included in Tier 4 from midnight, but two households may mingle on Christmas Day

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“The consequences of this decision will be grave,” said Helen Dickinson, executive director of the British Retail Consortium

Like other countries in Europe, the UK is struggling to contain new waves of viruses052 new COVID-19 cases reported, more than 2 million in total, and 534 more deaths, bringing the official casualty figure to over 67000 increased

“This virus has spread, it is moving quickly and it is inevitably leading to a sharp increase in hospital admissions,” said UK Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance

Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer of England, said authorities had alerted the World Health Organization and would continue to analyze the data

“There is no evidence that it is more deadly or causes more serious illness,” said Johnson. “There is no evidence that the vaccine will be less effective against the new variant

Other countries have also reported variants of the virus. South Africa said on Friday that such a load had triggered a second wave of infections there

Additional reporting from Elizabeth Piper, William Schomberg, and Yann Tessier; Editing by Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry

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New Covid Strain, New Covid Strain

World News – USA – To tackle the new COVID strain, British Prime Minister Johnson reverses Christmas plans for millions