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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told those living in tier 4 areas they must ‘behave as if they might well have the virus’, with the new strain of the virus being ‘out of control’.
Tier 4 has been introduced in London, parts of east and south east England and Wales, following soaring cases of a new, fast spreading variant of coronavirus. Scotland is also expected to move to tier 4 later this month.
Approximately 21 million people entered new restrictions at midnight on December 19, and are now being told to stay at home, with the planned relaxation of restrictions for the Christmas period having been scrapped. Non-essential shops and businesses have also had to close.
Throughout the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, initial relaxed indoor mixing rules have been reduced from a five day period to just Christmas Day.
Speaking with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Hancock urged:
Everybody, particularly people in tier 4 areas, needs to behave as if they might well have the virus – that is the only way we are going to get it under control.
Hancock then emphasised that the country now faces an ‘enormous challenge’ in controlling the spread of the new strain, and it is ‘more important now than ever’ that the rules are adhered to ‘because this is deadly serious’.
This is a deadly disease, we need to keep it under control, and it has been made more difficult by this new variant.
Hancock explained that ministers had been given no choice but to act after being presented with new scientific evidence on the afternoon of Friday, December 18, stating that cases had ‘absolutely rocketed’ over the course of the past few days.
Hancock told Sky News it will be ‘very difficult’ to control the new strain until a vaccine had been rolled out:
Essentially, we have got to get that vaccine rolled out to keep people safe. Given how much faster this new variant spreads it is going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out.
Noting that there was indeed ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ with the accelerating vaccine roll out, Hancock warned that there will be a ‘difficult few months’ ahead.
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