U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold an emergency meeting with his cabinet before addressing the public at 4 p.m. Saturday, amid speculation that tougher restrictions will be brought in to curb a rapidly spreading new variant of coronavirus.
Johnson held an unscheduled meeting with government ministers on Friday to discuss how to combat the new strain of the disease, which is currently concentrated in London and the southeast of England. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that the the faster spreading variant was behind climbing case numbers in that part of the country.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said. “Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”
Travel restrictions are among the measures under discussion, and could be brought in as soon as Saturday, the Telegraph reported,citing unidentified sources. A ban on commuters traveling into London is also being considered, the newspaper reported.
On Friday Johnson refused to rule out a third U.K. lockdown to control the spread of the virus. Britain would join Italy and Austria in tightening curbs during the holiday season, with all three countries facing rapidly rising case numbers.