London and Southeastern England are to lockdown after a new Covid-19 strain was discovered. This one may be more easily transmissible than the original version of the Coronavirus. The news comes after the British were hoping for openings to allow for Christmas celebrations this year.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement about a new shutdown this evening after holding an emergency cabinet meeting. The move comes due to a sudden increase in Covid-19 cases in Southeastern England.
At a hastily called press conference Prime Minister Johnson stated that London and other parts of England will need to enter Tier-4 levels shutdowns effective Sunday. This means that in the affected areas all non-essential shops, and leisure and entertainment venues will be closed. There will also be a new “stay at home,” people will not be allowed to spend the night at other people’s homes and those in the affected areas will not be allowed to travel abroad.
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However, people will be permitted to travel for work and education. But anyone who can work or learn from home will be told to do so.
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, was the one who first sounded the alarm about this new Covid-19 variant. He stated Saturday that it spreads more quickly than the previous strains of the virus, but added that it is not more virulent.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said in a statement.
“The spread is being driven by the new variant of the virus. It appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70% more transmissible than the earlier strain,” Boris Johnson said at his press conference.
This is now spreading very fast,” Johnson added. “It is with a very heavy heart that I say we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”
“When the virus changes its method of attack we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said at the news conference. “Without action the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.”
“Given this latest development, it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”
There is no word yet as to how long this new Coronavirus shutdown will last in the affected areas. However, it is clear that it will be in effect for at least a week and so London will not get to celebrate Christmas as usual this year or possibly even New Year’s.