A man crosses London’s Westminster Bridge in December 2020. Photo by AFP

Facing a new coronavirus variant, the UK is imposing a strict lockdown that banns holiday gatherings.

Iran PressEurope: Facing a new, and potentially more contagious, variant of the coronavirus, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is implementing lockdown measures in London and throughout southeast England that include a ban on holiday gatherings outside immediate households.

Coming after months of a patchwork response to the pandemic from Johnson’s administration — and a week after assurances that Christmas celebrations with up to three separate households would be permitted — his critics are pointing to this latest response as further evidence of shaky leadership amid a crisis that has led to nearly 2 million Britons infected with Covid-19, and has killed more than 67,000, Vox reported.

Johnson announced the measures on Saturday following an emergency cabinet meeting in which top government officials discussed a new strain of the coronavirus that the prime minister said is 70 percent more transmissible than previous versions. Some experts have cautioned that more study must be done to prove whether the mutation is actually more transmissible.

“When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said. “We have to act on information as we have it, because this is now spreading very fast.”

The announcement follows a week in which COVID-19 case rates in London almost doubled, and government officials said more than 60 percent of cases in the city are attributable to the new strain, known as VUI-202012/01.

This strain is not believed to be deadlier than previous variants, the nation’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said.

“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said.

The latest lockdown is the country’s strictest since March, and will go into effect on Sunday.


Read More:


New coronavirus mutation found in United Kingdom