New COVID Strain In The U.K. Spreads Faster, Scientists Say

The United Kingdom decided against easing coronavirus restrictions ahead of Christmas as a new strain of the virus has emerged. Instead, officials said that parts of London and southern England will be placed under new Tier 4 restrictions, which force all non-essential shops and many indoor venues to shut down.

While the virus has mutated thousands of times during the global pandemic, scientists believe the latest mutation allows the virus to spread faster.

"This is now spreading very fast," U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. "It is with a very heavy heart that I say we cannot continue with Christmas as planned."

Johnson explained that the recent spike in cases in the country "is being driven by the new variant of the virus."

"It appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70% more transmissible than the earlier strain," he said.

The decision comes one day after the U.K. reported 28,500 new cases and nearly 500 deaths. The U.K. ranks sixth in the world for total cases with just over two million, and deaths with more than 67,000. In Europe, the U.K. ranks second in both categories, trailing France in total cases and Italy in total deaths.

Photo: Getty Images

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