New strain of Covid-19 in London may be helping virus proliferate faster

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 15, 2020

A woman rides a bike, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, at Oxford Street in London. (file photo)   -  REUTERS

The health minister of Britain has announced on Monday that London is witnessing the highest level of restrictions due to the spiralling rate of Covid-19 infection, as per media reports.

London will move into "Tier 3" from 0001 GMT Wednesday. This means theatres, as well as pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality venues will remain suspended, except for takeaway food.

The restriction allows people to meet in groups of up to six in public places outside, but they are not allowed to socialize with anyone, not from their household.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock maintained that Britain’s capital has seen a "sharp rise" in daily cases and hospital admissions. The health experts in the city have speculated that there is another mutated strain of the coronavirus currently prevalent in the city, BBC reported.

"This action is absolutely essential, not just to keep people safe but because we have seen early action can prevent more damage and longer-term problems later," he told parliament.

He warned: “In some areas, cases are doubling every seven days. It only takes a few doublings for the NHS (National Health Service) to be overwhelmed."

Hancock revealed that health experts detected a "new variant" of Covid-19 in the south of England that helps the virus proliferate in the city.

But he said: "There's currently nothing to suggest it is more likely to cause serious cases and the latest clinical advice is it is highly unlikely to fail to respond to a vaccine."

Currently, London is in "Tier 2", which means non-essential shops and services can open, but it now has one of the highest infection rates in the country.

Tier 3 or "very high alert" means that while bars, pubs, and cafes can only offer takeaway food and drinks, shops and hairdressers can stay open, as can schools.

According to the government’s official website, on Friday, the "R number" in London indicating how many other people someone with the virus will infect was between 0.9 and 1.1.

Published on December 15, 2020

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