ALL of England should go into Tier 4 today to stop a Covid surge from thousands of super-spreading Christmas gatherings, experts say.
Another 24 million people in the south and east of the country will head into the country's strictest tier from 12.01am on Boxing Day – but some academics are demanding it be brought forward to today and imposed on the whole country.
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And they say much more is needed to control the spread of a new mutant Covid.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed a highly infectious new South African strain has been found in the UK.
Officials at the Independent SAGE group have today issued a statement claiming the situation is "rapidly worsening" and "incredibly dangerous".
They said: "Evidence is now strong that the new variant of Covid is significantly more infectious than previous strains.
"This is making a bad situation worse.
"Cases in all tiers are rising, even where the variant is still rare."
Tiers 1 to 3 "are not able to contain the spread of the new variant", they say.
Modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows the new variant will account for 90 per cent of new cases by mid-January, it's claimed.
"Christmas Day mixing of households indoors for prolonged periods of time, as allowed in Tiers 1 to 3 in England and across the devolved nations, sets the scene for thousands of super-spreading events," officials from the group said.
"In the context of the new strain, this is incredibly dangerous."
Instead, experts say, the Government must U-turn on plans for Christmas bubbles for the whole country – and "place all regions of England in Tier 4" now.
And epidemiologists are backing calls to put the country back into lockdown – with some saying schools must shut once again.
Full list of regions which will change tiers
The changes will come into force on Boxing Day
Tier 3 – 4
Waverley in Surrey
Hampshire (apart from the New Forest) Portsmouth, Southampton.
Tier 2 – 3
Somerset including N Somerset
Isle of Wight
Tier 1 to 2
More to follow…
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