Boris Johnson is expected to throw more of England into tier four imminently as a new strain of coronavirus spreads across the country.
Senior ministers and public health officials met last night to discuss how to contain a new fast-spreading variant of coronavirus, believed to be up to 70% more contagious. London and parts of the South East have already been placed in tier four due to the variant.
Current tier restrictions are due to be reviewed on December 30, but the government will take emergency action before that date if necessary. The Prime Minister is expected to make an announcement on the rules later today.
A third of the country, including Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, and large parts of Essex, are already under the highest tier of restrictions, which prevent households from mixing across all settings.
Burnley, in Lancashire, now has the highest Covid rate out of tier three areas, with 447 cases per 100,000 in the week to December 18. It is likely the area could be imminently added to tier four.
It has a higher case rate than Gosport, in Hampshire, which has the lowest cases of all tier four areas, at just 165 per 100,000.
The highest infection rates in tier two and tier three
Burnley, 447 cases per 100,000 (current tier three)
Rushmoor, 410 cases per 100,000 (current tier two)
Boston, 393 cases per 100,000 (current tier three)
Lincoln, 383 cases per 100,000 (current tier three)
Rugby, 377 cases per 100,000 (current tier three)
Wealden, 352 cases per 100,000 (current tier two)
Uttlesford, 342 cases per 100,000 (current tier two)
Cherwell, 334 cases per 100,000 (current tier two)
Hartlepool, 324 cases per 100,000 (current tier three)
Stoke-on-Trent, 322 cases per 100,000 (current tier three)
Boston and Lincoln, both tier three areas in Lincolnshire, also have around 400 cases per 100,000 people each. While Rushmoor, in Surrey, has 410 cases per 100,000 people – despite being in tier two.
The government is not adverse to making an area ‘skip’ a tier, if the transmission rate has soared over the past seven days.
Also at risk of tougher restrictions is Rugby, with 377 cases per 100,000, Wealden, with 352 per 100,000, and Uttlesford, at 342.
Birmingham could also be plunged into tier four as early as Boxing Day, The Mirror reported this week. The city’s rate has risen up to 261 per 100,000 now, alongside Sandwell which increased to 269.
On Monday, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said of the new strain of the virus: ‘It is more transmissible, we’ve absolutely got to make sure we’ve got the right level of restrictions in place.
‘I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country, and I think it’s likely therefore that measures are going to need to be increased in some places, not reduced.’
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