England could reportedly face a full lockdown as early as Boxing Day – as the new strain of coronavirus tears through the country.
Ministers met with medical officials this evening, December 22, to discuss how to tackle the variant.
It first emerged in September 2020 and circulated until mid-November – eventually causing higher infection rates in Kent, London, and Essex.
The Covid mutation has been detected across the UK, leading to border closures and grounded flights.
An announcement on a post-Christmas Tier 4 lockdown could be made on Wednesday, December 23, the Daily Mirror reports.
A source in the meeting said: “The situation is developing quickly so we need to respond at the same pace.
"It’s more likely that other parts of England could be put into Tier 4 from Boxing Day”.
Officials pushed for the entire country to face the same restrictions, it is claimed.
A review on the tier system was meant to be carried out on December 30, but that was before ministers were aware of how quickly the new strain had spread.
The Government also reportedly discussed putting Birmingham into Tier 4 before Christmas.
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Its chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance today warned: “I think it’s likely that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced.”
In the North East, public health chiefs warned the new strain was “very likely” to have reached the region already.
They said: “While there is no clear evidence that the new strain is yet spreading in the north east as it is in Kent and the South East, it is very likely already to be present.”
The UK today witnessed the highest ever increase in daily coronavirus cases along with 691 deaths.
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Along with the fatalities, 36,804 new positive tests were recorded.
The UK's overall death toll has now reached 68,307 – with today's figure the highest since May.
Separate figures published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 84,000 fatalities involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The total number of cases stands at 2,110,314.
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