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‘More infectious’ COVID strain: London placed in immediate, stringent lockdown

Screengrab from Boris Johnson's televised announcement of fresh lockdown in London and southeast England

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a “stay at home” order for London and southeast England to slow a new coronavirus strain that is significantly more infectious.

The new strain of the virus “does appear to be passed on significantly more easily,” Johnson said at a televised briefing also put on his official Twitter handle.

 

He ordered new restrictions for London and south-eastern England from Sunday, saying that under the new “tier four” rules, “residents in those areas must stay at home” at least until December 30, reported Bloomberg.com

Household mixing will be banned in London and the south-east and socializing restricted to just Christmas Day across the rest of England. Residents across the country were told to stay in their local areas.

“When the virus changes its method of attack we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said. “Without action the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.”

The dramatic escalation in Johnson’s pandemic response was triggered by a new strain of the virus that is virtually unique to the U.K. Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new variant can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge surge in infections in recent days. Covid-19 case rates nearly doubled in London over the past week, with almost 60% of these infections attributed to the new strain of the virus, according to government officials