The new strain of Covid-19, which prompted the UK government to impose a renewed Tier 4 lockdown in London and southeastern England over the festive period, is “out of control,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday.
Hancock said the new variant, which can spread faster than other strains but is not more dangerous, had to be controlled.
The only way you can do that is by restricting social contacts and essentially, especially in Tier 4 areas, everybody needs to behave as if they may well have the virus and that is the way that we can get it under control and keep people safe,” he said.
The Health Secretary called it “an awful end to what has been a difficult year.”
When asked about the time-frame of the Tier 4 restrictions, Hancock said: "Given how much faster this new variant spreads, it's going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out."
Hancock added what really mattered "is that people not only follow [the new Tier 4 measures], but everybody in a Tier 4 area act as if you have the virus to stop spreading it to other people... We just know that this new variant, you can catch it more easily from a smaller amount of the virus being present.”
“All of the different measures we have in place, we need more of them to control the spread of the new variant than we did to control the spread of the old variant,” he added, in response to whether current measures to protect people, such as the use of masks and the 2-meter rule (6.5 feet), was enough to protect people from the new strain.