I am sorry to report that the situation has worsened since I last spoke to you three days ago.
Yesterday afternoon I was informed of the latest data showing the virus is spreading in London, the South East and East of England faster than would be expected given the strict restrictions already in place.
I also received an explanation as to why the virus is spreading faster in these areas. It seems that this spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus that we first heard about earlier this week.
Our advisory group for new and emerging respiratory threats – NERVTAG – has been analyzing the new variant over the past few days.
There is no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness or higher mortality, but it appears to be much more easily passed on.
NERVTAG’s early analysis suggests that the new variant could increase R by 0. 4 or higher. Although there is considerable uncertainty, it can be up to 70% more transferable than the old variant.
These are early dates. It is subject to review. It is the best we have right now and we have to respond to information as we have it because it is now spreading very quickly.
The U. . K. . has by far the best genomic sequencing ability in the world, which means we can identify new strains like this better than any other country.
The Chief Medical Officer presented our results so far to the World Health Organization yesterday evening and we will continue to be fully transparent with our global partners.
There is still a lot we don’t know. While we’re pretty sure the variant is transmitted faster, there’s no evidence that it is more deadly or causes more serious illness. There is also no evidence that the vaccine will be less effective against the new variant.
I met as the first minister on the Covid Operations Committee last night and this morning, and the cabinet met at lunchtime to agree the following actions.
First of all, we will be introducing new restrictions in the hardest hit areas – especially those parts of London, the South East and East of England that are currently in Tier 3.
These areas are moving to a new Level 4, which is broadly in line with the national restrictions in force in England in November.
Residents in these areas must stay at home, subject to limited exceptions provided by law.
Unnecessary retail stores, gyms and recreational facilities, and personal care services must be closed.
People need to work from home when they can but can travel to work when they cannot, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents are not allowed to stay away from home overnight.
Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space.
Unlike the national restrictions in November, the community service can still take place in Tier 4 areas.
All levels will continue to be periodically reviewed according to the previously established approach, with the next formal review point on Jan.. December takes place.
Although the new variant focuses on Tier 4 areas, it is nonetheless present at lower levels across the country.
Individuals should carefully consider traveling overseas and follow the rules in their tier.
Persons in Tier 4 areas are allowed, with limited exceptions, e.g.. B.. for work purposes, not traveling abroad.
As Prime Minister, it is my duty to make the tough decisions and do what is right to protect the people of this country.
Given the early evidence we have of this new variant of the virus and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that we cannot continue Christmas as planned.
In England, those living in Tier 4 areas shouldn’t mingle with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, although support bubbles remain for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.
In the rest of the country, the Christmas rules, according to which up to three households can come together, are limited to Christmas Day and no longer to the previously specified five days.
It will still be on 31. December does not give relaxation, so people are not allowed to break the rules at New Year.
I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year and how important it is that grandparents see their grandchildren and that families are together.
So I know how disappointing this will be, but we have said during this pandemic that we must and will be guided by science.
As your Prime Minister, I sincerely believe that I have no alternative. In the absence of action, the evidence suggests that infections would increase, hospitals would be overwhelmed, and many thousands more would lose their lives.
I want to emphasize that we are not alone in this struggle – many of our European friends and neighbors are forced to take similar measures.
We are working closely with the decentralized administrations to keep people safe in all parts of the UK.
Of course there is hope now – real hope – that we will get rid of this virus soon.
Great Britain was the first country in the western world to use a clinically approved vaccine.
If the NHS contacts you, please get your vaccine – and join the 350. 000 people across the UK who have already received their first dose.
We are sacrificing our chance to see our loved ones for Christmas so we can better protect their lives so we can see them at Christmas in the future.
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Coronavirus, Boris Johnson, Strain, United Kingdom
World News – AU – Prime Minister’s Declaration on Coronavirus (COVID-19): 19. December 2020
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