Covid UK news – Mega-infections mutant strain RAGES out of control in tier 4 London as Europe shuts borders on Britain

EUROPEAN countries have shuttered their borders after a mutant coronavirus strain has torn through the UK.

The new strain is 70 per cent more infectious than normal.

It's thought the new strain – called VUI202012/01 – emerged in London and the South East as early as September, Sir Patrick Vallance said at a Downing Street briefing.

Supermarkets face shortages and vaccines could even be delayed after France shut its border with the UK.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans…

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    BRITS BANNED

  • Niamh Cavanagh

    JAB BOOST

    The UK's Covid vaccine supply won't be disrupted by France's travel ban, the Transport Secretary has said today.

    Grant Shapps said despite the border closure for freight and travel from the UK, containers carrying the jabs are still allowed through Dover.

    The ban, which was announced yesterday, sparked fears of a breakdown in vaccine, food and goods supplied over Christmas.

    Boris Johnson is set to meet his emergency Cobra team today to address the 48-hour blockade ordered by President  Emmanuel Macron.

    Mr Shapps told Sky News: "There's no issue (with the vaccine) at all. Most of the vaccine does not come on a.. roll in, roll off… in other words it's not accompanied by a driver it comes on containers.

    "There are good supplies in the meantime so there won't be an impact on the vaccination programme.

    "But it's obviously important we get this resolved with the French and that's what we'll be trying to do today."

  • Ben Hill

    TRAVEL REFUNDS

    The Government has pledged to provide refunds for rail and coach tickets bought for the previous Christmas travel window between December 23 and 27.

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this will apply to journeys in England booked on or after November 24, when the Christmas travel window was announced.

    Mr Shapps said: "This ensures no one is left out of pocket for doing the right thing – staying home in Tier 4, and elsewhere staying local and only meeting your Christmas bubble on Christmas Day."

    It comes after Boris Johnson announced a dramatic scaling back of the Government's relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, which is now limited to just December 25 for people in Tiers 1-3 in England, rather than the initial five days.

  • Ben Hill

    SOAP SALES

    Soap sales have rocketed by a massive £77.8 million in 2020 as obsessive fears over hand washing to prevent the spreading of coronavirus have sparked a huge surge in demand among Britons, according to a new report yesterday.

    For the latest research shows that the Covid-19 pandemic led to ultra hygiene-conscious shoppers snapping up an extra 42.1 million bottles of liquid soap and an additional 9.6 million soap bars.

    Trade magazine The Grocer said yesterday: “Soap makers must be rubbing their hands together with glee.

    “For Covid-19 and the resulting passion for hand washing has helped add £77.8 million across bar and liquid formats."

  • Ben Hill

    CRISIS TALKS

    Boris Johnson will hold crisis talks with ministers after France banned lorries carrying freight from the UK and countries around the world ended flights amid fears over the new mutant coronavirus strain.

    The Prime Minister will chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday amid warnings of "significant disruption" around the Channel ports in Kent.

    Hauliers were urged to stay away from the area amid warnings of potential problems as the end of the Brexit transition period looms on December 31.

    Kent Police said they were implementing Operation Stack in a bid to ease potential congestion, while the Department for Transport said Manston Airport was also being prepared as another contingency measure against the anticipated level of disruption.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    THREE MUTANT COVID CASES IN SCOTLAND

    Nicola Sturgeon introduced a travel ban to other parts of the UK and announced a brutal three week lockdown from Boxing Day.

    The First Minister said 17 cases of the new mutant strain of Covid has been identified north of the border.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    US ‘WON’T GOUND BRIT FLIGHTS’

    Officials have said they won’t ground flights between the US and UK despite the spread of the Covid mutant strain, as Europe shuts its doors.

    Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to the government's Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, told CNN's 'State of the Union' that US officials “don't know yet” if the variant is present in the country.

    When asked if the US was likely to follow the example of European countries suspending flights from the UK, Giroir said: “I really don't believe we need to do that yet.”

    President Donald Trump is said to be considering lifting the US travel ban on the UK and Europe as early as next week, according to reports on Friday.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    WHAT IS THE NEW COVID STRAIN?

    Millions of Brits have been plunged back into lockdown amid fears of a new high velocity strain of coronavirus.

    The new strain of coronavirus is feared to be 70 per cent more contagious than the original Covid bug.

    While there is no evidence currently to suggest that the new strain is more deadly, the "frighteningly transmissable" variation has meant the Christmas bubble has been burst.

    It's thought the new strain – called VUI202012/01 – emerged in London and the South East as early as September, Sir Patrick Vallance said at a Downing Street briefing.

    The high velocity mutant strain has seen Covid more than double in the last week, as data shows a sharp increase in hospital admissions across London and the South.

    Boris Johnson said that it was thought the new strain could also see the R rate increase by 0.4

    UK authorities have since alerted the World Health Organisation.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    TIER 4 LOCKDOWN RULES

  • Dan Keane

    GOVT WARNS OF 'SIGNIFICANT DISRUPTION' IN KENT

    The Government has warned of "significant disruption" in Kent on Monday after France announced it would not accept travellers from the UK amid concerns over the new mutant coronavirus.

    "We are expecting significant disruption in Kent following the announcement by the French Government that, from 2300 on Sunday December 20, it will not accept any passengers from the UK for the next 48 hours," a Government spokesman said.

    "As a result we are urging everybody – including all hauliers – to avoid travelling to Kent ports until further notice.

    "We are working closely with Kent Resilience Forum, Kent Council and Highways England to ensure contingency measures are urgently put in place to manage disruption, and the Prime Minister will chair a Cobra meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation", they added.

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    POSSIBLE VACCINE DELAYS AFTER FRENCH TRANSPORT BAN

    Vaccines being transported to the UK could be delayed after France banned banned all travel to and from Britain including freight due to  the mutant Covid strain.

    Boris Johnson will meet his emergency Cobra team on Monday to address the 48-hour blockade ordered by President  Emmanuel Macron.

    An industry source said: “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse — disaster on top of disaster. I fear for supermarket supply chains.

    "It’s the panic buying we are most worried about. The chains have held up all year but only if people are sensible.”

  • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

    WHICH BUSINESSES WILL SHUT IN TIER 4

    These businesses will shut in Tier 4

    • Clothes shops
    • Electronics stores
    • Car showrooms
    • Travel agents
    • Betting shops and adult gaming centres
    • Auction houses
    • Tailors
    • Car washes
    • Tobacco and vape shops
    • Card shops
    • Phone shops
    • Jewellery stores
    • Toy shops
    • Homeware shops
    • Bookstores
    • Music shops

    CAN PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOMES IN TIER 4?

    Just like in full lockdown, Brits in Tier 4 can only leave their homes for essential reasons.

    All exercise is unlimited – unlike in the first lockdown, when it was initially restricted to just an hour a day.

    Travel for some reasons – including education, childcare or an emergency – will be allowed.

    When it comes to education, the Government says it must be formal provision – as in, going to class – rather than extracurricular classes such as music or drama tuition.

    Communal worship can also still go ahead.

    AT A GLANCE – TIER 4

    For those affected, Tier 4 is essentially a return to the full lockdown which ended in England on December 2.

    It began on December 20 and be reviewed on December 30.

    The PM's key message for those in these regions was to stay at home unless it's for essential reasons.

    NEW TIER RULES FOR 1-3

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS SHUTTERED IN WALES

      Wales has shut down its non-essential shops again. 

      First Minister Mark Drakeford last night announced Wales would be plunged into a Tier 4 lockdown, amid fears that the mutation tearing through the South East was behind a spike in cases in the country.

      Pictures show large swathes of a Sainsbury's in Pontypridd and Asda in Cardiff blocked off – but the stores insisted this was "in line with the Welsh government's guidance".

      Supermarkets sparked fury during Wales' fire-breaker lockdown in October after barricading non-essential items including clothes and stationery.

       

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      EUROTUNNEL CLOSED

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      VACCINE ROLLOUT

      The Pfizer/BioNTechvaccine is currently being rolled out across the country with hopes the 25million vulnerable adults will be vaccinated by Easter.

      The 40million doses of the vaccine are expected to be rolled out during the first half of next year and will be enough to vaccinate up to a third of the population.

      It is also hoped Oxford/Astrazeneca will also be approved in the next few weeks.

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      LONDON COULD BE IN TIER 4 FOR FOUR MONTHS

      London and the South East could be trapped in Tier 4 for MONTHS until the vaccine takes hold, Matt Hancock warned today.

      The Health Secretary this morning said it would be "very difficult" to keep the deadly bug under control without the vaccine having been widely administered after the new strain emerged.

      Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Hancock today admitted "we have got a long way to go".

      He said: "The cases in the Tier 4 areas have absolutely skyrocketed in the last few days, two weeks or so. We have got a long way to go to sort this.

      "We've essentially got to get that vaccine."

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      IRISH TRAVEL BAN

      Ireland has banned flights from the UK for the first time in history, RTE reports.

      The initial ban is set to last 48 hours and will begin at midnight, with the Cabinet set to meet on Wednesday to decide on a possible extension.

      Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told Virgin News: "General travel between here and Britain is going to be restricted, and we will review it on Tuesday morning."

      Ferry crossings will continue to keep supply chains moving, the Irish government confirmed.

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      EU BRIT FLIGHT BAN

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      FRANCE & GERMANY BAN BRIT TRAVELLERS 

      France and Germany are set to ban Brits from flying in to stop the spread of a mutant strain of coronavirus tearing through London and the South East.

      It comes after Brits were today banned from travelling to a string of European countries including Italy, Holland and Belgium.

      A French Government spokesman said: "All flows of people from the United Kingdom to France are suspended from midnight tonight, for 48 hours, and for all means of transport".

      Germany, which is currently back in lockdown, is also posed to announce a ban on flights into the UK starting at midnight, a Bundestag source told AFP.

      The source said Berlin will "make it official in the coming hours", and suggested the same policy could be adopted across the entire 27-member European Union.

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      ACTRESS’S RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN IN LOCKDOWN

      Anna Friel has revealed her four-year relationship broke down just two weeks into the first lockdown.

      The actress, 44, kept the romance, and it's subsequent end, under wraps for its duration, but now feels the time is right to make it public.

      Speaking to the Mail's You magazine, she said: "A relationship I was in for four years broke down after about the first two weeks…

      "When we went into lockdown, I remember thinking: 'God, there’s going to be so many people breaking up during this.'

      "While I like to keep my private life incredibly private, I think there’s going to be such a fallout at the end of all this that it’s important to say, 'I’m human, it happens to all of us and it is difficult.'"

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      UK SEES BIGGEST DAILY INFECTION RISE

      UK coronavirus cases have today seen their biggest daily increase yet – doubling in just a week.

      A shocking 35,928 infections were recorded in the past 24 hours as a new, highly contagious strain of Covid-19 forced almost 20million Brits into lockdown overnight.

      The new stats released today also recorded another 326 fatalities – double the 144 deaths reported last Sunday. The UK's grim death toll now stands at 67,401.

      So far, the UK has recorded a total of 2,040,147 infections – with the rate showing little signs of slowing with Christmas just days away.

      And today's figures show a 95% increase on last Sunday's daily infection figures that saw 18,447 cases recorded.

    • Lottie Tiplady-Bishop

      UK COVID-19 DEATHS & CASES

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