Whole of England should be in Tier 4 to combat new Covid strain, scientist warns

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Everywhere in England “must be put into Tier 4 immediately” to stop the mutant Covid-19 strain spreading nationwide, a top scientist has said.

The expert from Sage, who advise the UK government on scientific issues, warned the current tier system in place will allow for thousands more people to be infected in the new year.

It comes as a new coronavirus strain, believed to spread far quicker than the first one, continues to infect people in London and the South East at a rapid rate.

Dr Zubaida Haque, who is part of Sage, asked on Twitter why the entire country is not under the toughest measures given the amount of people currently in hospital with the virus.

Dr Haque said: “Given that we surpassed 70,000 #COVID19 deaths in UK on Christmas Day, and there are now more patients with coronavirus in hospital than at any point in the pandemic, why hasn’t the government implemented #tier4 restrictions everywhere in the UK? @IndependentSage are very worried.

“Given the crisis situation we’re in with the highest number of daily deaths with #COVID19 in 2nd wave, with 1000s more likely to be infected because of relaxation of rules in Tier 1-3 on Christmas Day AND failed govt’s test & trace system, we need #tier4 everywhere now to save lives.”

While Dr Haque called on Boris Johnson's government to put the whole of the UK into Tier 4, Parliament only has power to bring in restrictions in England. Devolved nations have been creating their own restrictions throughout the pandemic, with the likes of Scotland using "levels" of lockdown instead of "tiers".

On Boxing Day, 6 million more people were moved under Tier 4 restrictions which forces shut non-essential shops and businesses among other rules.

Tier 4 now applies to 43% of the population but Dr Haque has said it should be bumped up to 100% for the nation to stand a chance to tackling the spread of the mutant strain.

Scientists say the new virus is more easily passed on but it is no more deadly.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said there is "some evidence that the increase may be particularly marked in children."

According to their studies, even a national lockdown would struggle to bring the R rate down on the latest coronavirus variant because it is 56% more infectious.

They added that infections were "unlikely" to go down while schools and universities remain open.

A wave of cases and deaths caused by the virus will peak in spring 2021 for London, the South East and east of England, and a couple of months later for the rest of the country, scientists' research found.

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