ANYONE who has travelled from South Africa in the last week must quarantine now, the Health Scretary said this afternoon.
Matt Hancock revealed a new strain of Covid has been found in the UK, brought in by two people coming from South Africa.
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Matt Hancock gave a press briefing this afternoon from No 10Credit: AP:Associated Press
He told the nation: “The other news I want to tell you about is about the development of another strain of this virus.
“We have detected two cases of another new variant of coronavirus here in the UK.”
He warned this variant is “highly concerning and yet more transmissible and appears to have mutated further’.
Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has travelled from South Africa must also quarantine.
He also announced there are immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa to the UK.
As he announced new areas facing Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day, Mr Hancock said: “We all know that 2020 has been a hard year and it’s ending in this festive period that is going to be very different.
“After all the efforts that we have gone to to control this virus… we’ve discovered a new more contagious virus, a variant that is spreading at a dangerous rate.”
He said cases have risen by 57 per cent in the last week, with almost as many people in hospital with Covid as in the peak.
The daily figures showed Covid cases nearly doubled since the 18,450 infections recorded the same time last week.
It comes as…
The soaring infection levels saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce a new Tier 4 lockdown on Saturday which has plunged 16 million people back into virtual lockdown, with all pubs and non-essential shops shut and people urged to stay indoors.
The new mutant strain is feared to be present in every region of the UK, with health bosses and government ministers urging people living in Tier 4 areas not to travel to other parts of the country.
More than 2,000,000 positive tests and 68,000 deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic in January this year.
The increase in cases is believed to be down to a new mutant strain of the virus which has swept London and the South East.
Data from Public Health England (PHE) states that out of the 315 local areas in England, 285 have seen a rise in case rates and 30 have seen a fall.
The data accounts for cases between December 19 and 22 and shows that Thurrock in Essex has the highest rate in England, with 2,192 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 18 – the equivalent of 1257.3 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up steeply from 512.2 in the seven days to December 11.
The first passengers from the UK arrived in Calais earlier after Emmanuel Macron opened the border – but thousands of drivers are still being blocked from leaving.
They have to show a negative test before they can cross into France, after the President raised fears over the mutant strain.
The Army has been called in to help the Welsh ambulance servicesCredit: Getty Images – Getty