mylondon– There are reports that the London Underground could be closed after fears a mutated Covid strain could spiral out of control.
The Covid variant came to light on Monday, December 14 when the Health Secretary Matt Hancock raised the issue while making a statement to Parliament about London moving to Tier 3 due to infection rates rising.
On Friday (December 18) evening the Prime Minister and senior cabinet members met to discuss concerns about the spread of the new Covid variant.
On Saturday (December 19) the talks continued when Boris Johnson called an emergency meeting of his Cabinet to discuss how to control the mutated strain of coronavirus.
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It is understood that a press conference will be held at 4pm by the Prime Minister, along with the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
According to a journalist for The Telegraph, sources have told him that the Government is considering “shutting entire London Underground lines or restricting general commuting into the capital”.
In a Tweet Christopher Hope from The Telegraph wrote: “Whitehall sources tell me the Government is looking at locking down transport routes in the south east of England. Ministers are said to be weighing up whether they need to “restrict travel in some way, across London and into London”.
Chris Whitty said in statement that the UK had now informed the World Health Organisation that it had concluded the mutant strain could spread more quickly.
“As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance,” he said in a statement.
“As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.
“We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is under way to confirm this.
“Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”
Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, says the new variant is a “real cause for concern”.
He said: “New variant a reminder of power of evolution. Virus is increasingly under immense immune pressure and will evolve. We have to reduce transmission to prevent hospitalisations and deaths. We also have to reduce transmission to reduce opportunity for virus to evolve and escape control.”
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MyLondon will be bringing you live coverage of the press conference at 4pm.