December 23, 2020 3.39 pm This story is over 41 months old

Lincolnshire escapes tier 4, but there’s another COVID mutation now

Even more infectious variant from South Africa

Greater Lincolnshire has escaped being put into tier 4 lockdown from Boxing Day, but millions in other areas of the UK have been escalated a tier.

Health secretary Matt Hancock also announced another new variant of coronavirus detected, this time in South Africa.

He outlined a number of areas moving into the toughest restrictions available during a press conference on Wednesday.

The newly discovered virus appears “yet more transmissible and appears to have mutated further” than another strain discovered recently in the UK, said Mr Hancock.

New measures to tackle the South African variant of the virus include immediate restrictions on travel from the region, as well as quarantines for anyone in the UK returning from there — restricting all contact with any person whatsoever.

Residents in tier 4, also known as the “stay at home” tier, cannot leave or be outside of the place they are living, unless they have a reasonable excuse, and cannot meet other people indoors.

The moves are mainly down to a new UK variant of coronavirus which has spread rapidly across the country, with cases rising 57% over the past week.

COVID hospital admissions nationally have also risen by around 1,909 a day with 18,943 people in hospital.

Health secretary Matt Hancock speaking on December 23.

Mr Hancock said: “After all the efforts that we’ve gone through to control this virus […] just as we’ve got a tiered system in place that was able to control this virus, we’ve discovered a new, more contagious virus — a variant that is spreading a dangerous rate.”

He said tier 3 restrictions had worked, especially in northern England, but that it was not enough to control the new variant.

691 people died from COVID complications on Tuesday in the UK.

“Thats’ 691 people who have died just before Christmas, and our hearts go out to their families, their loved ones out with all who died from this horrible disease. I know the pain that this causes,” he said.

“Against this backdrop of rising infections, rising hospitalisations and rising numbers of people dying from coronavirus, it is absolutely vital we act.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the R (reproduction) number range in the UK increased from 1.1-1.2 up to 1.1-1.3.

The next tier review is set for December 30.