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The UK capital will be placed under the highest level of restrictions on coronavirus on Wednesday, amid a “very strong” increase in COVID-19 cases in London and surrounding areas and a new variant of coronavirus being identified as responsible for the “spread of” faster “, the British Government announced in the Parliament on Monday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told House of Commons lawmakers that “swift and decisive action” was needed, as the rate of doubling of the deadly virus reached only seven days in many of these areas.
Level 3 restrictions, the highest level in England’s three-tier system, mean an almost complete blockade, allowing people to meet those with whom they do not live only in outdoor environments and in places of hospitality aimed at closure, except for meals and delivery.
“A new variant of coronavirus has been identified in the UK, which may be associated with the fastest spread in the south-east of England,” said Hancock.
“We do not know to what extent this is due to the new variant, but regardless of its cause, we must take rapid and decisive action, which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is being launched? Do we need to act now to change the curve? because when the virus moves fast, we have to move fast too, “he said.
The minister said experts had identified more than 1,000 cases with the variant, predominantly in the south of England. “Cases have been identified in almost 60 different areas of local authorities and their numbers are growing rapidly. Similar variants have been identified in other countries in recent months,” he said, adding that the World Health Organization had been notified of the variant and that it is unlikely to cause more serious disease than other variants of the coronavirus.
He pointed out that mobile testing and community testing are also being extended, with another 67 local authorities receiving community testing this week to help areas “drop levels” and get closer to normal life.
Regarding the ongoing launch of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, Hancock said that due to science, “help is on the way”, but “this is not over yet”.
Monday’s announcement means that, just before the official review of the tier system scheduled for Wednesday, Greater London, South and West Essex and South Hertfordshire will be placed in Level 3 at 0001 GMT on Wednesday morning.