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The UK government has expanded the new Tier Four restrictions, with more parts of England now subject to stricter rules.
Speaking during a coronavirus briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the rate of infection had increased significantly in areas beyond the South-East, and action was needed.
Mr Hancock announced that Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Waverley, and Hampshire will move to Tier Four from 00.01 on Boxing Day.
Isle of Wight,
New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire, and Warrington will be placed in Tier Three.
He also confirmed that Cornwall and Herefordshire would move to Tier Two.
Aside from the changes to the tiering system, Mr Hancock also said that a couple of examples of another new variant of the deadly disease had been imported from South Africa, and that it was even more transmissible than the UK mutation.
He ordered anyone who has been to South Africa or had any contact with anyone from South Africa in recent weeks to fully quarantine immediately.
Mr Hancock said: "We are incredibly grateful to the South African government for their science.
"This virus is yet more transmissible and appears to have mutated further than the new virus."
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jennifer Harries said that the number of cases continued to rise at a 'very rapid pace' over the last week, especially in London and the South-East, as well as parts of Wales.
In more positive news, the Health Secretary announced that vaccinations were now being rolled out into care homes, with the Chelsea Pensioners receiving the jab.
And those who work in care homes, he assured, will be tested for the disease twice a week.
The decision was made as the UK recorded its highest daily increase in cases since the pandemic began, with 36,804 confirmed cases yesterday compared to Monday's 33,364.
And it comes just a few days after the government announced that London and some surrounding areas would move to Tier Four, seeing people there face similar restrictions enforced for the national November lockdown.
Those residents in Tier 4 areas must stay at home, with limited exemptions, with non-essential retail, indoor gyms and personal care services forced to close.
People should also work from home when they can, should not enter or leave tier four areas, and should not travel abroad. However, they can meet one person from another household in an outdoor space.
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