PM Boris Johnson called an emergency meeting of minsters after it was found that the new strain of the coronavirus is increasing infections in the country. The new strain was first discovered in the south-east of England after a sharp spike of cases there.
The meeting was called on Friday to discuss how to tackle this new variant which is believed to be more infectious. The ministers have considered more travel restrictions from the south-east part of England (including London) to other areas to curb the spread. So far, no decisions have been made.
New restrictions could make Christmas more difficult for millions of citizens in the UK.
Earlier this week Heath Secretary Matt Hancock expressed worry concerning this new strain and announced tier-3 restrictions for London and three parts of surrounding counties.
He further said that around 1000 new cases of the new strain had been identified and about 60 local authority areas have been found to have cases of it.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC2’s Newsnight: “What happens with viruses is they do naturally mutate all the time and the ones that are likely to do well are the ones that increase transmission. We know that this is a new variant, it has been seen in other countries but it seems to be quite widespread which suggests that it has got a transmission advantage.”
He said scientists are working extremely hard to work out what is going on. “But it does definitely seem possible that this transmits more easily. It will make the social-distancing even more critical,” he added.
Despite possibly having a “transmission advantage”, the new strain isn’t believed to be more dangerous.
The Health Secretary has also allayed concerns by saying that it is not likely that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccine.