British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government’s plans to ease coronavirus restrictions over Christmas would have to be dropped because of a rise in cases fuelled by a new variant of Covid-19.
“Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, the potential risk it poses, it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at a press conference, just days after he said it would be “frankly inhuman” to cancel the holidays. “I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me,” he added.
A stringent tier-4 lockdown has been imposed in the worst-affected parts of the country, with restrictions on household mixing in London and the southeast, while in other parts of the country socialising will be allowed only on Christmas day.
In response, several European countries on Sunday banned flights coming from the UK. Netherlands and Belgium were among the first countries to announce the ban, with Germany still mulling the decision. Meanwhile, in India, the Health Ministry called an urgent meeting of its joint monitoring group to discuss the development.
Although mutations of the Sars-CoV-2 have been reported in recent months from various parts of the world, the VUI-202012/01 variant traced in the UK has raised cause for concern. Johnson said that preliminary data evidenced that it is 70% more transmissible.
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