Out of Control
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warns a new strain of the coronavirus is “Out of Control”.
More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home after a lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England and the government scrapped plans to relax rules on socializing at Christmas.
The measures to control the fast-spreading new variant of the virus forbid household mixing in those areas and restrict socializing to just Christmas Day across the rest of England. Residents across the country were told to keep to their local areas, and extra police were being deployed at rail stations to stop people traveling out of London.
“Cases have absolutely rocketed, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Hancock told Sky News. “I think it will be very difficult to keep it under control until the vaccine has rolled out.” People in the new Tier 4 areas “should behave as though they have it,” he said.
Race to Block the New Strain
In a race to block the new Covid-19 strain, Countries Ban Travel From U.K.
Countries across Europe and beyond raced Sunday to stem a more-infectious strain of Covid-19 by banning travel from the U.K., following a British announcement Saturday that it is imposing fresh lockdowns.
Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Israel on Sunday were preparing to join the Netherlands and Belgium, which hours earlier had banned passenger air travel from the U.K., while other countries considered similar moves in an effort to prevent a worsening of the pandemic before Christmas.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference Saturday that scientists believe the new variant could be as much as 70% more transmissible than more established strains. He said there is no evidence it is any more deadly or resistant to vaccines, despite its faster transmission from person to person.
In response to the discovery, Mr. Johnson imposed a fresh lockdown on London and nearby areas of southeastern and eastern England. The new measures include a ban on households mixing at Christmas.
- The Netherlands moved first, banning all passenger flights from the U.K. until Jan. 1.
- Belgium quickly followed, banning flights and rail arrivals of the Eurostar train line, beginning midnight Sunday, initially for 24 hours.
- The German government later Sunday said it would restrict travel to and from the U.K. and South Africa, where the new strain has also been found.
- France will suspend both travel and imports from the U.K. to France for at least 48 hours, beginning at midnight Sunday, French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on French television.
- Israel barred travelers from the U.K., Denmark and South Africa, and said it could add more countries to that list. Israelis may return from those countries but must quarantine in a hotel, the government said.
Daily New Confirmed Covid-19 Cases
The US and UK are the global Covid case leaders but also leaders in the race to vaccinate.
My concern always has been the vaccine would not work against rapidly mutating viruses.