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Covid: Matt Hancock leads briefing as London and South East of England moves to Tier 3

Health secretary Matt Hancock is to lead a Covid-19 briefing after it was announced London and large parts of the South East of England will be moved to Tier 3 following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hancock also revealed a new strain of virus had been discovered that could be contributing to the “very sharp, exponential rises” of Covid-19 in the past week

Appearing alongside him is Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty and Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director for Public Health England.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Hancock announced all 32 boroughs of Greater London and the City of London, along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, will move into the highest tier of Covid-19 restrictions from 00:01 on Wednesday after “very sharp, exponential rises” of Covid-19 in the past week.

Experts have warned it is too early to be worried about a new variant of coronavirus, or make any claims about the potential impact of the virus mutation.

Mr Hancock stressed there is no evidence to suggest the variant is more likely to cause serious disease, and that it is highly unlikely the mutation would fail to respond to a Covid-19 vaccine.

Mr Hancock said the new strand of the virus, first observed in Kent, is being assessed by government scientists at its Porton Down research laboratory.