Health

Coronavirus: Cambridgeshire moving to Tier 4

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Not really welcome at the moment

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced this afternoon that Norfolk is one of the counties in the south-east moving into tier four from Boxing Day.

"We're also taking action in parts of the south west, where there are some early signs of the new variant and where cases are rising".

More details were given at a Downing Street press conference on the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic.

Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset among areas entering tier three.

Areas moving to the toughest Tier 4 - where there is a stay-at-home order - from Boxing Day are: Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, those parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire with the exception of the New Forest. The Isle of Wight had been in Tier 1.

Anyone who has symptoms or tests positive is reminded to isolate and should not make a Christmas bubble.

All the new measures are being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the United Kingdom which was announced on Friday.

Health secretary Matt Hancock also said there had been a couple of cases of another variant of the virus discovered in the United Kingdom, thought to originate from South Africa. It means 24 million people in total - 43 per cent of England's population - will be in Tier 4.

He also said cases of another new mutant coronavirus linked to South Africa had been found in the United Kingdom and placed travel restrictions on the country.

"So the new variant in the United Kingdom, which we've identified, is very different to the variant in South Africa, it's got different mutations", Hopkins added.

"We're placing immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa", Hancock said, adding that two cases of the "highly concerning" new virus strain had been discovered in Britain.

"This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant has been discovered in the United Kingdom", he said.

Britain is already trying to curb the spread of a mutated strain of the virus which is up to 70% more transmissible, and further studies aerie being carried out on the new variant.

Close contacts of those with the new variant and all those who have been in South Africa in the last fortnight, or were in close contact with someone who had, must quarantine, he said.

Britain has joined a growing list of countries, including Switzerland, Turkey, Israel and Germany, that have introduced restrictions on travel from South Africa, including compulsory quarantine and flight bans.

Further investigation into this new strain are set to take place at Porton Down.

Mr Hancock said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is being delivered in more than 500 sites across the United Kingdom, including care homes, with more to follow.

Mr Hancock also revealed that care home residents, including the Chelsea pensioners, would start to be vaccinated, and that the team behind the Oxford vaccine had submitted their paperwork for approval.

Meanwhile, Hancock said that the government is expanding community testing yet further in areas where the rate of infection is highest.

Mr Hancock called the rapid tests "extremely effective" at finding cases.

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