The United Kingdom’s health secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new variant of the coronavirus that appears to be spreading more quickly.
Over 1,000 cases of the variant have been identified, predominately in the country’s southern region.
Little is confirmed about the new strain of the virus, but Hancock assured that there is nothing to suggest that the new strain is stronger than others, or that it is vaccine-resistant.
The UK has recorded more than 25,000 new cases of coronavirus within the last 24 hours, prompting the government to push London and other parts of the country into tier three lockdown.
The lockdown includes the closure of thousands of cafes, bars and restaurants in the British capital, and only take-out food orders will be allowed through home delivery.
Amid the closures, British Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick warned the public about gathering for Christmas, stating that while the the decision to gather remains in the public’s hands, it is important to take the risk of further infections into account.
The government is being pressured to review its plans to ease the lockdown restrictions for five days over the Christmas holiday.
Currently, three households are permitted to gather during the five day period.
Though no decisions to repeal the law have been made, Prime Minister Boris Jonson cautioned the public on Wednesday: “A smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm