Priti Patel refuses to rule out national lockdown & insists ministers will take 'necessary steps' to stop mutant covid

PRITI Patel has refused to rule out a fresh national lockdown and insisted ministers will take "all necessary measures" to stop the spread of the mutant Covid strain.

The Home Secretary joined Boris Johnson in leaving draconian country-wide measures on the table as fears grew over Tier 4 being extended everywhere by January.

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Ms Patel stressed this morning the Government would do whatever it takes to "contain" the new super-spreading strain.

The next Government review of measures is set of December 30 – meaning a New Year's Eve lockdown announcement could be on the cards.

It comes after the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance set alarm bells ringing last night that the new strain was already out of control – and had spread across the UK.

When asked about whether a nationwide lockdown was inevitable, Ms Patel said: "I think it's important to remember, as we've seen this virus spread, grow and evolve, the Government, working with our scientific advisers, will take all the necessary steps to contain this."

Speaking to Sky News, she said: "This is a stronger strain of the virus, it's more transmittable. It's a bouncy virus, so obviously people can catch it in a much easier way.

"We have to do everything possible… to squash this virus. We want to do much more to stop the spread of the virus."

And she added that it was "inevitable" as people travel around the country – despite stay at home orders in Tier 4 areas – that the virus will travel and stronger measures will be necessary.

The Home Secretary insisted the dramatic announcement London and the South East of England would be thrown into Tier 4 lockdown was the "right decision" despite the chaos in the run up to Christmas.

Ms Patel told BBC Breakfast: "We have introduced a Tier 4 over the weekend, now at the weekend, many people were saying they felt it was a step too far.

"It was the right thing to do, I know it's in the run up to Christmas, but it's the right thing to do to keep people safe and all measures are constantly, and rightly so under review."

It comes as

  • All of the UK could be thrown into Tier 4 lockdown in New Year as mutant strain spread "everywhere"
  • The number of Covid patients in hospital could hit April peak by New Year
  • More than 1,5000 lorries are piled up at Dover as ministers scramble to test every driver
  • Boris Johnson warned Brits to "shop normally" amidst fears of food shortages
  • Retail chiefs demanded lorry chaos be solved by Wednesday to prevent stores running out of food

The Home Secretary said ministers would be working closely with the scientific advisers to decide whether to dial up new measures.

Last night, Sir Patrick delivered a grim warning that it was unlikely any measures would be decreased and further Tier 4 measures were on the horizon.

RESTRICTIONS ON THE RISE

The new mutant Covid strain wrecking havoc across the country could be as much as 70 per cent more transmissible, and horrifying worst case scenarios of 700,000 cases a week could be much higher with the super-spreader variant.

Sir Patrick told a Downing Street briefing last night: "It's more transmissible, we've absolutely got to make sure we've got the right level of restrictions in place."

"I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country, and I think it's likely therefore that measures are going to need to be increased in some places, not reduced."

He said it was already "everywhere" after other health experts confirmed it was now in every region of the country.




Cases in London have doubled in the last week alone, it was confirmed today.

And there are now eight places across the UK – from Medway to Boston – which have recorded more than 1000 cases per 100,000.

The horrifying new strain of coronavirus has cause chaos on the border after France barred entry to lorries travelling from the UK.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said every driver should be tested before the scenes of bedlam at Dover can start to be more eased.

Ms Patel said this morning more than 1,500 lorries are stuck trying to make the crossing.

OPEN THE BORDER

Director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium Andrew Opie warned the mayhem must be sorted out by Wednesday to avoid disruption.

He told BBC Radio 4 that "borders really need to be running pretty much freely from tomorrow to assure us that there won't be any disruption.

He said this morning: "There is a problem potentially directly after Christmas and that is really in fresh produce, so we're talking here about things like salad, vegetables, fresh fruit, of which the vast majority come from Europe at this time.

"The problem actually is empty lorries, so the empty lorries which are now stuck in Kent, they need to get back to places like Spain to pick up the next consignment of raspberries and strawberries and they need to get back within the next day or so, otherwise we will see disruption."

He added: "As long as it can be cleared today, there'll be minimal impact for consumers … but those lorries that are stuck in Kent, they do need to get back within the next day."

 

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