Household mixing on Christmas Day should be banned and all areas placed in Tier 4, Independent Sage has said, as the Covid situation worsens in the UK.
The group of independent scientists urged the government to make changes to the planned easing of restrictions on Christmas Day, describing the new strain of Covid as “incredibly dangerous”.
A new, more infectious variant of the virus has been sweeping across the South of England, causing cases to rise. Yesterday nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK – a daily record.
The group said the new variant requires a “complete rethink of all mitigation strategies”.
Independent Sage has said all regions of England should be placed in Tier 4 to suppress the virus “as much as possible”, and Christmas Day mixing should be cancelled, apart from with pre-existing bubbles.
Independent Sage said: “Evidence is now strong that the new variant of Covid-19 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.”
Modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has estimated that the new variant will account for 90 per cent of new cases by mid-January.
Independent Sage continued: “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. In the context of the new strain, this is incredibly dangerous.”
There is no evidence yet that the new variant is more deadly than previous iterations of the virus, nor that it will mean the vaccine will not work against it.