Chris Whitty has this afternoon confirmed that a mutant Covid strain is more contagious – as he warns that cases are ‘rapidly rising’ in the South East.
But England’s chief medical officer stressed there is nothing to suggest the new strain, called ‘VUI – 202012/01’, is more deadly or resistant to a vaccine.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, Boris Johnson revealed that the variant was 70 per cent more transmissible than previous stains and could increase the country’s R value by 0.4.
The new strain has caused the PM to dramatically cancel Christmas for millions of people in an emergency press conference this afternoon.
A third of England – including London and swathes of the home counties – will be shifted up to a brutal new ‘Tier 4’ from midnight.
The draconian bracket means non-essential shops being forced to shut, and travel restrictions including a ‘stay at home’ order for Christmas Day itself – even though Mr Johnson insisted just days ago that it would be ‘inhuman’ to axe five-day festive ‘bubbles’.