The British government said that huge parts of England will be placed under the strictest restrictions of Covid-19 because a highly contagious variant of the virus is invading the country, pushing the number of cases to a record level.
Britain has reported almost 40,000 new infections, because the mutated variant of the coronavirus, which could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, is causing an increase in the number of cases and hospital admissions.
The number of recorded deaths – 744 – is also the highest number since April.
“Against the background of growing infections, growing hospitalizations and the growing number of people dying from coronavirus, it is crucial that we act,” Health Minister Matt Hancock told a media briefing. “We just can’t have the kind of Christmas we all long for.”
Strict measures to limit social interference were introduced for London, south-east England and Wales on Saturday, while plans to ease restrictions across Christmas across the country were either dramatically reduced or lifted altogether.
Hancock said that from December 26, many other parts of southern England will also be added to the highest level of social interference restrictions, joining 16 million already in Tier 4, while other areas across the country that are currently at lower levels will also face with tighter curbs.
The governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland have already announced that almost everyone living in those countries will be subject to the highest level of restrictions after Christmas.
Hancock said there were an average of 1,909 admissions to Covid Hospital daily, with 18,943 people currently in the coronavirus hospital, and the level has not been recorded since the peak of the first outbreak in April.