Due to the rapid spread of a Corona variant, President Johnson is lifting relaxations over Christmas in London and parts of southern England. According to the prime minister, however, there is no evidence that the mutation is causing more severe outbreaks.
The British capital London and parts of southern England will have to go into lockdown again a few days before Christmas. Because a new variant of the coronavirus has led to a sharp increase in new infections there, there will be new curfew restrictions and store closures from Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced.
No higher mortality so far
The recently discovered VUI2020/12/01 variant is up to 70 percent more contagious than the previously known form, Johnson told reporters in London. But he said there is no evidence that vaccines against the mutation are less effective. “There’s still a lot we don’t know. But there is no evidence that the new variant causes more disease or more severe disease,” the premier said. Nor has the virus variant been found to cause more mortality, he said.
The government’s top scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, stressed that 60 percent of new infections in London in December had involved the new variant. “It is spreading rapidly and is about to become the dominant variant,” he said. The UK government’s health commissioner, Chris Whitty, said the World Health Organization (WHO) had been informed.
VUI2020/12/01 is not the first mutation of the Corona virus. Since its emergence, Sars-CoV-2 has mutated an estimated 4,000 times. The variant detected in England is believed to be the third major mutation suspected to affect the behavior of the covid virus.
Lockdown again in London and southeast England
Because of the rapid spread of the virus variant, Johnson canceled planned lockdowns over the Christmas holiday until Dec. 30. “It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell them that we cannot go ahead with Christmas as planned.” London and other areas in the south of England were already at the highest level of the three-tier warning system in England, with restrictions graduated accordingly. At the third level, for example, indoor meetings were banned, but people were still allowed to go to the hairdresser or to gyms.
Level four: No meeting with other households
Now a fourth, even higher level has been introduced, in which, among other things, all non-essential stores and hairdressers will be closed after closing time on Saturday. The measures are roughly equivalent to those that were in place when the whole of England was in lockdown in November. For Christmas, that means not being allowed to hit another household in the tier-four areas, Johnson said. Narrow exceptions exist when meetings are held outdoors.
Johnson: Sacrificing Christmas for the lives of loved ones.
Originally, a so-called “Christmas Bubble” was actually planned, where up to three households would be able to meet over Christmas, during the days of Dec. 23-27. That period has now been reduced to one day for the rest of England. Johnson said he had no choice given the infection figures. Christmas had to be sacrificed to protect the lives of loved ones, he said. Experts believe that a new variant of the coronavirus was responsible for the high numbers.