New COVID-19 variant + Tier 4 rules + NUMBERS

Scientific data from Whole Genome Sequencing, epidemiology and modelling suggest the new COVID-19 variant transmits more easily than other strains, although there is no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality.

A briefing note published on Sunday by Public Health England stated: “The evidence shows that infection rates in geographical areas where this particular strain has been circulating have increased faster than expected, and the modelling evidence has demonstrated that this variant has a higher transmission rate than other variants in current circulation.”

Processes have been adapted to ensure that tests can detect the new variant, PHE said, and there is no evidence so far to suggest that the Pfizer vaccine would not protect people against the new strain.

The discovery of the new strain comes as the higher Tier 4 restrictions were introduced for London and the South East. In Tier 4, everyone who can work effectively from home should do so. Where people cannot do so -- including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure or other essential services, construction, or manufacturing -- they should continue to travel to work.

COVID-19 in numbers

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the UK is rising, with 33,364 reported to have tested positive in the 24 hours to 21st December, with a lower 215 deaths reported over the same period, according to data published by the UK Government.

Globally, as of 09:42 CET today, 75,479,471 confirmed cases have been reported to the World Health Organisation, including 1,686,267 deaths.

Which tier is your business in?

This page sets out the full list of local restriction tiers by area: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/full-list-of-local-restriction-tiers-by-area

Travel corridors

The live list is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors

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