Calls for national lockdown to contain new Covid strain and stop ‘catastrophe’

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Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to plunge England into a new national lockdown amid spiralling coronavirus cases.

The acting mayor of Liverpool has called for tough country-wide restrictions as “alarming levels” of a mutated strain plague the city.

Cases in Liverpool have almost tripled in the past two weeks to 350 per 100,000, despite the city successfully leading on the national pilot for community testing which led to it being the first city to be taken out of Tier 3 and into Tier 2.

Councillor Wendy Simon, who is fronting the Labour-run council at present, said the sped of the virus’ spread, driven by the new strain, means action must be taken.

The call for a new lockdown was made in a statement from the city council, from Cllr Wendy Simon and Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Paul Brant.

The new strain of Covid-19 transmits faster and is most prevalent in London and the South East, where hospitals have become stretched.

It is believed the strain is spreading from south to north, leading to increasing pressure on the NHS.

The statement said: "It is clear that the country is now at a crossroads with Covid-19.

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"The stark reality is that today this virulent new strain of the virus is very much on the rise and we need to act now to prevent a crisis that will unleash even more pain and anguish.

"We need the government to listen to those at the frontline, both in our hospitals and frontline services.

"We as a nation can cope with a lockdown. We have before and we can again. The quicker we move into one now, the more lives will be saved and the quicker a recovery will be.

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"Yes, there will be pain for our retail and hospitality sectors, but they want long term security and a strong recovery and a lockdown provides both.

"An additional package of welfare and economic support will also be needed, especially to protect the most vulnerable."

A Government spokeswoman said: "We strengthened our measures by introducing Tier 4 two weeks ago, based on advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and it is vital everyone continues to follow the rules to reduce transmission in their areas, save lives and protect our NHS.

"We keep the spread of Covid-19 under constant review based on latest medical and scientific data and have been clear we will not hesitate to take actions necessary to protect local communities."

Yesterday another 479 people died with coronavirus in the UK, hitting an eight-month high as the new strain causes havoc.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is at record levels in many areas of England including London, the South West and the Midlands.

In some areas hospital admissions have risen above the levels seen during the first wave.

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