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Millions more in England will be plunged into devastating Covid-fighting Tier 4 restrictions, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Hancock said the North West, East and Midlands will be among the latest counties to be placed into the strictest level of restrictions.
People in the South West of England and the remaining parts of the south East will also have to live by Tier 4 rules, which means all non-essential shops, including gyms and entrainment venues, will be instructed to close.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: "Sharply rising cases and the hospitalisations that follow demonstrate the need to act where the virus is spreading."
"Unfortunately, this new variant is now spreading across most of England and cases are doubling fast.
"It is therefore necessary to apply Tier 4 measures to a wider area, including the remaining parts of the South East, as well as large parts of the Midlands, the North West, the North East and the South West."
Brits in those areas will join over 25 million people across London, much of the east, and south east already living in Tier 4.
A full list of the areas covered by the new Tier 4 rules from tomorrow are:
- Leicester City
- Derby and Derbyshire
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
- Birmingham and Black Country
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
- Cheshire and Warrington
- Greater Manchester
- Tees Valley
- North East
- Somerset council
- Isle of Wight
- New Forest
The move comes after the Independent SAGE group urged the Government to implement tougher restrictions as cases and deaths surge across the UK.
In the last week alone, Covid-related deaths have jumped a whopping 8% in a week, with nearly of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the the week to December 18 mentioning the virus on the death certificate.
According to the Office for National Statistics, a total of 2,986 deaths registered in this week mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate – up from 2,756 deaths in the week to December 11.
Coronavirus vaccine: Who will get new Oxford-AstraZeneca jab and when?
The deadly rise has been attributed to the new mutant strain of coronavirus found in the south of England at the end of September.
Analysis from Public Health England said the new strain was 54% more likely to infect people with the disease.
Despite this, the new variant does not appear to cause more severe symptoms or higher death rates in those who catch it.
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