LONDON, UK – A new faster-spreading variant of COVID-19 has been discovered in Europe prompting the United Kingdom to impose a tier four lockdown.
“Over the last few days, thanks to our world-class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the faster spread in the South East of England. Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants,” said U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “We have currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant, predominantly in the South of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas and numbers are increasing rapidly.”
Hancock said while the revelation is concerning, it should not be alarming.
“I must stress at this point that there is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease and the latest clinical advice is that it’s highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine,” he said. “But it shows we’ve got to be vigilant, and follow the rules and everyone needs to take personal responsibility not to spread this virus.”
The Netherlands has now banned all incoming flights from the U.K. in response. The lockdown comes days before Christmas and prohibits families from intermingling on and shuts down non-essential businesses.