Charts show how much faster coronavirus variant is spreading in parts of England

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 min read
People walk past temporarily-closed stores on Oxford Street in London, England, on December 21, 2020. London spent its second day of what could be months under newly-introduced 'Tier 4' coronavirus restrictions today. Under Tier 4 rules non-essential shops and many other businesses including gyms and hairdressers must close, with people instructed to stay at home other than for exempted circumstances including travel to work or education. Indoor mixing between those in different households is also banned under the new tier, upending Christmas plans for a huge swathe of the population. Concern over a more infectious strain of the coronavirus in the UK has meanwhile seen dozens of countries ban arrivals from Britain, with food supplies also disrupted after France closed the cross-Channel freight route from Dover. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The new coronavirus variant is spreading quickly. (Getty)

Three charts show how much faster a new coronavirus variant is spreading throughout parts of southern England.

On Wednesday, health secretary Matt Hancock announced millions of more people in England would be subject to the most severe Tier 4 restrictions due to rising infections.

Several new graphs have now shown the speed at which the new strain is infecting people compared with other variants.

Infections caused by the new strain, which was revealed last week, are rising sharply across London, the South East and the East of England.

These places were placed in Tier 4 on Saturday and they will be joined by several new areas on Boxing Day.

The three charts that show the effect of the new strain of coronavirus

(Twitter/Prof Christina Pagel)
(Twitter/Prof Christina Pagel)

Hancock also revealed that two cases of another new “more transmissible” strain of COVID-19 linked to South Africa had been identified in the UK.

But the statistics relating to this variant were not included in the charts.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries was asked whether the increase in infections will be mirrored in increases in hospital admissions and deaths, and said: “That sharp rise in cases is going to need some stopping and, as the secretary of state has said, this is not something that can be orchestrated, it is something which we all have to do.

“However sad a time of year it is for us to be reminded that we need to behave that way, it is a very stark reminder that we do need to manage our own behaviours and keep our distances.

“I think, as I said earlier, there is no reason at the moment to suggest that the new variant will, if you like, turn into more severe disease or more deaths.

“But, clearly, if we have more cases then we will see rising numbers and those numbers are rising quite quickly now.”

Dr Harries added the rise was “not inevitable” with the correct actions, referencing significant measures in place around care homes including urgent testing.

She continued: “With all the hard work which the care home staff have been putting in, and the residents themselves of course in quite difficult circumstances, there are opportunities for us to ensure that these cases do not just automatically translate through into hospital cases.”

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said the number of COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds in London is heading towards the spring peak.

Watch: Matt Hancock announces further Tier 4 restrictions

On Boxing Day, Sussex; Oxfordshire; Suffolk; Norfolk; Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4; Waverley in Surrey; and Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton but excluding the New Forest will all join Tier 4.

Hancock said: “I know these actions have consequences.

“I know how difficult it is. But I also know that it is right to take the action that is necessary to control this virus.”

The government said a further 744 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 69,051.

It is the highest deaths figure reported on one day since April 29 during the first peak of the virus.

Watch: What is long COVID?