00:31 GMT26 January 2021
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    Earlier in the month, a mutated coronavirus variant was discovered in the United Kingdom. The novel virus strain is believed to be far more contagious than other versions, and has already spread to dozens of other countries.

    The Independent Sage group of experts over the week have called for full lockdown in England, saying it could help avoid "tens of thousands" of deaths as new coronavirus cases spike across the United Kingdom.

    “The frightening thing is that they [things] are going to continue to get worse,” Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London and a member of Independent Sage, said, cited by The Guardian. “Action is needed now to avoid the collapse of the NHS in a few weeks. It is that serious."

    The group outlined that, given the emergence of the new, more contagious coronavirus variant, tier 4 level restrictions may not be enough, as things are worsening. On 24 December, the group issued an emergency statement regarding the novel coronavirus variant.

    "The situation across the UK, particularly England and Wales, is rapidly worsening. Evidence is now strong that the new variant of Covid-19 (B117) 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. As Matt Hancock announced on 23 December, Tiers 1-3 are not able to contain spread of the new variant", the group said, recommending the government to place all regions of England in tier 4.

    The Independent Sage also advised that schools be closed for at least a month for most children.

    ‘It’s not a question of should schools be open or shut. The key question is, are schools safe enough right now?’ Dr Zubaida Haque, a member of the group, stated in an interview to Good Morning Britain.

    ​Experts are sounding the alarm as coronavirus cases have spiked in the UK, while the new, more transmittable coronavirus strain has been discovered in the country, prompting the government to impose new stricter anti-COVID measures. 

    Multiple countries have swiftly moved to temporarily suspend travel to the UK over concerns regarding the new variant. Despite the restrictions, the UK COVID strain has been detected in many countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, the UAE, Australia and the United States - the latter nation remaining that worst-affected by the pandemic.


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