Epidemiologists say the corona virus has mutated several times since it first appeared in China in 2019. On Friday, South Africa announced that it had identified a variant, where a new wave was said to be triggering infections. Scientists say this is different than what has been identified in the UK.
Most of these types are not significant or widespread. But as the number of infected individuals – and, presumably, some have developed immunity – increases, so does the pressure to change the pathogen. Some newer strains of the virus are more contagious than previous versions or can lead to serious illness.
For several months, Mr. Johnson has struggled to balance his response to the virus. At times, he has lagged behind other European leaders in imposing sanctions. At other times, he seemed to oppose the advice of the scientific advisers of his own government.
There were 27,052 new cases and 534 deaths in Britain on Saturday. The death toll from the epidemic is the highest in Europe. Mr. Johnson pointed to the release of a vaccine that Britain approved and began to administer more than other Western countries, as a ray of hope. 350,000 people in the country have received the first dose of the Pfizer-Bioentech vaccine, which is a two-shot rule.
But as the economy collapses, the locks are politically filled. When the government placed Manchester, Liverpool and other northern cities, where the infection rate was high, in the most restricted layer, local officials complained of being unfairly targeted. They noted that life in London was largely unchanged.
Last week, amid signs that London was turning into a new hot spot, Mr. Johnson placed the capital and much of the southeast on Tier 3, which has the highest level of control. But he stuck to his promise that Christmas would be withdrawn from December 23 to December 27, and he asked people to keep family gatherings brief and small.