United Kingdom government says new COVID-19 strain is out of control

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Coronavirus

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government has imposed a strict Christmas lockdown in London and southeast England because a new strain of the coronavirus was “out of control”.

Hancock warned that the strict measures could stay in place until the virus vaccine is fully rolled out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that millions must cancel Christmas plans and stay home because the new strain was spreading far more quickly.

Hancock said the situation was “deadly serious.”

It emerged that scientists first discovered the new variant in a patient in September.

Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said the agency notified the government last week, when modelling revealed the full seriousness of the new strain. She confirmed the figure given by Johnson that the new virus strain could be 70 percent more transmissible while saying this was an initial figure.