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New strain of COVID-19 with 70% higher infectivity spreads fast in UK  

New strain of COVID-19 with 70% higher infectivity spreads fast in UK  

Posted December. 21, 2020 07:23,   

Updated December. 21, 2020 07:23


The U.K. government announced an emergency lockdown in London and southeast England as the new strain of COVID-19 was spreading fast. London announced that the new virus’s infectivity was 70% higher, but vaccines were equally effective to it.  

“We will introduce new restrictions in the most affected areas, specifically those parts in London, the southeast of England, which are currently in tier three. These areas enter a new tier four,” Prime Minster Boris Johnson said in a public announcement after discussing with the cabinet. They newly drew up tier four, the complete lockdown, after imposing tier three restrictions which is the highest level restrictions as they saw stronger measures were needed.  

Tier four restrictions force all stores except essential facilities such as hospitals and pharmacies to close down, and everyone must stay at home except for when they go out for schooling or childcare purposes or when they cannot work from home. Those in tier-four areas are limited to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space, and meeting people from other households indoors is banned.  

The British government was planning to alleviate the lockdown measures during the Christmas holidays (from December 23 to 27) so that up to three households can have a meetup, but the alleviated measure will not be applied to the tier-four areas. The alleviation measure will be reduced to one day on Christmas to other areas as well. London will impose the new measure until December 30 and decide whether to extend it. “We cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” said Johnson.  

The sudden change in the quarantine stance comes from the new variant of COVID-19, known as “VIU-202012/01.” Prime Minister Johnson announced that the new virus was 70% more likely to spread and could increase the reproduction rate by up to 0.4. However, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday that there was no evidence to suggest the new strain was any more harmful, or impact the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com