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Apocalyptic London: The capital's streets and stations in Tier 4 ghost town are empty


Strong images this morning paint a bleak picture of London as the streets are empty a few days before Christmas.

The festive season is usually in full swing, with families doing last-minute shopping and coworkers finishing their jobs before they get cheerful and toast the year to Christmas parties.

But the capital was deserted this morning, with only a handful of key workers on the subway network during rush hour, while the shutters of the shops were closed and the stations deserted.

Buyers had flocked onto the main streets of London on Saturday. Pictures showed Oxford Street and Regent Street flooded with panic buyers late into the night.

But when London and the South East ran into Tier 4 restrictions at midnight, the streets were emptied as people were forced to stay in their homes.

After the eleventh hour of the Prime Minister's U-turn, Christmas is now in chaos for millions. with panic at the till amid fears of food shortages caused by the closure of European borders and the ruin of businesses before the new year.

London Bridge is usually packed with commuters on a Monday – but these photos, taken this morning, paint a very different picture

Leadenhall Market in the city of London, open 24/7, was lifeless this morning, forcing shoppers to look elsewhere for last minute groceries and gifts

Leadenhall Market in the city of London, open 24/7, was lifeless this morning, forcing shoppers to look elsewhere for last minute groceries and gifts

France imposed an entry ban from 11pm last night as the mutated Covid-19 strain spread that plunged London and the Southeast into Tier 4. The picture yesterday shows a Eurostar train on a platform at St. Pancras International Station

France imposed an entry ban from 11pm last night as the mutated Covid-19 strain spread that plunged London and the Southeast into Tier 4. The picture yesterday shows a Eurostar train on a platform at St. Pancras International Station

There were only a handful of key workers on London Bridge this morning

There were only a handful of key workers on London Bridge this morning

WAREHOUSE MARKETS AND STERLING STRIKE HARDLY OVER COVID-19 AND BREXIT Fears

More than £ 33 billion was wiped away within minutes of the FTSE 100 opening as panicked investors reacted to the devastating economic threat posed by a tightened lockdown, new coronavirus strain and ongoing Brexit deadlock.

Companies like British Airways owner IAG and engine maker Rolls-Royce took heavy hits, although online favorites Ocado and Just Eat Takeaway saw their shares surge.

The pound sterling fell sharply against the dollar and the euro, falling 1.79% and 1.38% respectively. A pound was worth 1.326 dollars and 1.086 euros.

The hardest hit have been companies hardest hit by the new Tier 4 restrictions that saw European countries stop traveling to the UK, including airlines and travel agents such as easyJet, FirstGroup, National Express, Tui, Trainline and cruise ship operator Carnival.

The shares in these companies fell consistently between 5% and 9%.

Pubs and recreational groups took a dip, with Mitchells & Butlers, Wetherspoon & # 39; s and Cineworld down 7.7%, 6.2% and 8.7%, respectively.

Retailers also felt hit by the new restrictions in London and the South East as non-essential stores closed their doors, with Mike Ashley's Frasers Group declining 8.1% and WH Smith 8%.

However, online gamblers saw stock prices rise. In the online supermarket Ocado and Just Eat Takeaway, stocks rose 4.3% and 3.6%, respectively.

It was created today when millions of people remain in the grip of draconian Tier 4 curbs.

  • The Food and Drink Federation warned of "serious disruption to the supply and export of fresh food for Christmas in Britain".
  • Italy said the mutant strain was discovered in a traveler who had recently returned to the country from the UK
  • The UK retail consortium warned that closing France to UK traffic would create "trouble" for UK trade
  • Nicola Sturgeon said it was "imperative" that the UK government seek an extension of the Brexit transition period
  • Ireland has imposed a 48-hour ban on flights from the UK, while ferries would only be limited to cargo
  • Heathrow Airport was in chaos when hundreds of passengers boarded the final flight to Dublin
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted the new Tier 4 restrictions may have to stay in place for months
  • The UK reported an additional 35,928 cases yesterday as the mutant strain caused a 94.8% increase in infections

Boris Johnson on Saturday imposed a tough new round of restrictions on London and much of the Southeast, slipping more than 16 million people into lockdown.

Shops, gyms, hairdressers, and beauty salons have closed again and residents have been told not to leave Tier Four.

In his embarrassing U-turn, the Prime Minister has also cut a Christmas amnesty from five to just one day and completely canceled Tier 4 meetings. He had said three days earlier that it would be "inhuman" to do so.

The London Underground was almost empty today, with many working from home after the draconian new rules went into effect late Saturday.

Millions are already lining up in supermarkets this morning to buy supplies for fear of food shortages after France imposed a new coronavirus travel ban on British trucks.

The port of Dover has been closed to all cargo vehicles leaving the UK for the next 48 hours after France banned entry from 11pm last night as the mutated Covid-19 strain spread, which is London and the Southeast in Tier 4 crashed.

Shoppers were queuing in supermarkets at 5:50 this morning as people rushed to buy groceries before Christmas amid news of possible shortages.

And Sainsbury warned that some popular items will not be available in the coming days: “If nothing changes, we will see gaps in the coming days in lettuce, some lettuce leaves, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus, all imported from the US become a continent at this time of year.

"We hope that the UK and French governments can come to an amicable solution that prioritises the immediate transfer of produce and other food in ports."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold crisis talks with ministers today as he chairs the Government's Cobra Committee on Civil Contingent Liabilities and warns of "major disruption" in Kent's Channel Ports.

Kent Police implemented Operation Stack to reduce congestion while the Department of Transportation said the decommissioned Manston Airport was also being prepared as another emergency response against the expected extent of the disruption.

Countries like France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Bulgaria announced travel restrictions for the UK following the outbreak of the new strain in south-east England.

People on a District Line tube in central London at rush hour this morning

People on a District Line tube in central London at rush hour this morning

The platform at Temple Tube Station in central London - which is usually full of commuters on a Monday morning

The platform at Temple Tube Station in central London – which is usually full of commuters on a Monday morning

Blackfriars tube station in central London was almost empty this morning and only a single commuter was on his way to work

Blackfriars tube station in central London was almost empty this morning and only a single commuter was on his way to work

"Show us the evidence": Scientists are calling for clarity on the claim that the new strain of the Covid-19 variant is 70% more contagious

The prime minister has warned that the new variant of the coronavirus could be up to 70 percent more transmissible than previous tribes and could overwhelm the NHS.

But last night a scientist called for more transparency on the number that has shut down parts of the UK.

Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care at Oxford University, was skeptical about the 70 percent figure.

He said, "I've been doing this job for 25 years and I can tell you that you can't get a quantifiable number in such a short amount of time."

He added, "Every expert says it is too early to draw such a conclusion."

Professor Heneghan said there was no doubt that this time of year, "the height of the virus season," was a difficult time for the NHS. But he said the failure to provide the basis of the numbers undermined public confidence.

He added, "I'd rather have very clear evidence than 'we think it's more transferable' so we can see if it is or not.

"It has massive effects, it causes fear and panic, but we shouldn't be in this situation when the government releases data that is not quantifiable."

He added, “They're matching the data with the evidence. They see cases rise and look for evidence to explain this. & # 39;

Ahead of a meeting of the Cobra Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said immediate action would be taken to deal with the backlog of trucks heading towards the canal ports.

However, he tried to downplay the potential impact, stressing that container freight was not affected by the French travel ban.

Markets fell in response to the escalating coronavirus crisis and the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period on December 31.

Within minutes of opening, more than £ 33 billion was wiped off the FTSE 100 as the index fell more than 2%, though it later rebounded to a decline of around 1.4%.

Along with France, countries around the world announced travel restrictions for the UK after it was revealed that the highly infectious new strain is widespread in south-east England.

Italian authorities said the mutant strain was discovered in a traveler who had recently returned to the country from the UK.

The French Health Minister Olivier Veran said it was already "quite possible" that the new variant – VUI 202012/01 – was already in circulation there, although tests had not found this.

Not only does the disruption affect cargo flows from Dover and the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone, but it also leaves passengers stranded before Christmas.

Mr Shapps tried to allay fears about the wider implications of the French decision.

The transport minister said freight forwarders are "pretty used to anticipating disruptions," adding that there are "constant" fluctuations in supply.

Mr Shapps said he spoke to French counterpart Jean-Baptiste Djebbari and told Sky News, "The absolute key is to resolve this as soon as possible."

It's because millions of families have to live under Tier 4 restrictions for months, Matt Hancock warned.

The health minister warned that the draconian lockdown could be extended nationwide and said the coronavirus was now "out of control" after the emergence of a rapidly spreading new variant.

Mr. Hancock admitted yesterday that many were angry with the government for forcing families to cancel their Christmas plans.

But he said the new variant would be a huge challenge until we can introduce the vaccine to protect people. This is what we will face in the next few months.

Experts from Nervtag (Advisory Group on Threats from New and Emerging Respiratory Viruses) warn that the new strain of Covid-19 "looks much better when it spreads".

Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London, a member of Nervtag, told The Times: “It is very unlikely that any less than really effective measures will control this.

“I'm worried people won't do it. It's really important that people appreciate the danger. & # 39;

The Minister of Health suggested that other parts of the country would also be placed in Tier 4 if significant numbers of cases of the mutated virus occurred.

A senior Conservative MP called on Mr. Hancock to resign over the shambolic treatment of the Christmas rules.

And angry Tories called for a recall from Parliament to debate and vote on the changes to the pandemic laws that Mr Hancock unilaterally made early in the morning yesterday.

Covid cases yesterday hit a daily record of 35,928 – almost double the previous week. There were also 326 deaths, up from 144 a week earlier.

Tier 4 through Easter: "Professor Lockdown" Neil Ferguson warns that draconian Tier Four measures may be required for months after Matt Hancock hinted that millions more could be locked into lockdown while Covid is now "out of control" .

By Stephen Matthews Health Editor for MailOnline and Jason Groves Political Editor for the Daily Mail

Millions of families will be living under draconian Tier 4 restrictions until Easter, according to the scientist whose grim modeling No10 caused Britain to lock down for the first time back in March.

"Professor Lockdown" Neil Ferguson, an Imperial College London epidemiologist who resigned his role as a government adviser after breaking the rules to see his married lover, claimed today the toughest curbs could "possibly" by Spring must stay, admitting Britain was now in a race to vaccinate people.

He warned the UK situation was "not optimistic at the moment". It comes after Matt Hancock warned yesterday that Tier 4 restrictions could be extended nationwide after the Health Secretary said the virus was now "out of control" after a rapidly spreading new variant emerged.

Boris Johnson sparked anger on Saturday night after canceling Christmas for more than 16 million people in London and across the Southeast. Shops, gyms, hairdressers, and beauty salons have been ordered to close and residents have been told not to leave Tier Four.

In his embarrassing U-turn, the Prime Minister – who last week claimed it was "inhuman" to cancel Christmas – also cut a festive amnesty from five days to just one for the rest of the UK.

After it was revealed yesterday that Professor Ferguson played a major role in the dramatic cancellation of Christmas. He was among those attending a meeting from Nervtag – the Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats – to discuss the new mutant strain of coronavirus on Friday.

Dozens of countries have already banned travel from the UK because they fear the mutant strain of the coronavirus could spread. France caused chaos last night when it decided at the last minute to close the border. Mr Johnson will hold crisis talks with ministers today as he chairs the government's Cobra committee and warns of “major disruptions” in the Kent canal ports.

Discussing the prospect of the toughest lockdown measures by spring, Professor Ferguson told BBC Radio 4's Today program: “The government has been criticized for constantly changing its policies.

“This virus is unpredictable, people's behavior is unpredictable, so we will follow the epidemic as we have always done. A policy is formed on this basis.

& # 39; The levels are reviewed every two weeks and will continue to be reviewed. But I am sure that things do not look optimistic at the moment. & # 39;

Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London, a member of Nervtag, told The Times: "It is very unlikely that any less than really effective measures will control this."

“I'm worried people won't do it. It's really important that people appreciate the danger. "

The Minister of Health suggested that other parts of the country would also be placed in Tier 4 if significant numbers of cases of the mutated virus occurred.

A senior Conservative MP called on Mr. Hancock to resign over the shambolic treatment of the Christmas rules.

And angry Tories called for a recall from Parliament to debate and vote on the changes to the pandemic laws that Mr Hancock unilaterally made early in the morning yesterday.

Health officials across the UK today recorded 35,928 positive cases - a new record - and another 326 deaths

Health officials across the UK today recorded 35,928 positive cases – a new record – and another 326 deaths

Mr Hancock said yesterday that a third national lockdown was "not inevitable".

However, a government source said ministers would not hesitate to extend Tier 4 if necessary. "We have to see what impact Tier 4 has," the source said.

“The new strain is quite common in London and the South East, which is very worrying, but in other parts of the country the tier system is still working. "If it's included in London and the South East, that's one thing.

“But when people leave this region and possibly transfer it to the rest of the country, that's a big problem. Another blocking is out of the question. "

To counter a Tory mutiny, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Cabinet Minister Michael Gove hosted seminars for MPs on the mutated Covid strain via video link.

But former Whip Chief Mark Harper led the call for Parliament to be recalled.

Sir Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Backbench Tories committee, accused ministers of postponing the decision to cancel Christmas until MPs left for the festive break.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW COVID MUTATION: HOW DID IT HAPPEN, IS IT MORE DANGEROUS AND HOW LONG IS IT IN THE UK?

By David Churchill

What happened to the coronavirus to raise such concerns?

A new strain of Covid has developed that is said to be spreading much faster. A "strain" is a new version of a virus that has genetic mutations. The new strain is a version of Sars-Cov-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

It was named VUI-202012/01. These letters and numbers stand for "investigated variant" and the month of December 2020.

What makes it so worrisome?

This special variant is defined by up to 17 changes or mutations in the coronavirus spike protein. It's the combination of some of these changes that scientists think could make it more contagious.

It is believed that they could help the virus' spike protein attach to human cells and gain easier access.

Is it certain that the new variant will accelerate the spread of the virus?

No, but scientists say preliminary evidence suggests it.

Boris Johnson said it can spread up to 70 percent easier than other strains of the virus, potentially increasing the "R-rate" – which measures how quickly the virus spreads – significantly.

On Saturday night, Mr Johnson said it could increase the "R-Rate" by up to 0.4.

This would be especially important in areas like east England where it is 1.4 and both London and the South East where it is 1.3. The & # 39; R rate & # 39; must stay below 1 for infections to decrease.

Is the new variant more dangerous?

Scientists don't believe that for the time being. When asked on Saturday night whether it was more deadly than the previous exposure, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said, "The answer seems to be 'no' as far as we can tell at the moment."

Dr. Public Health England's Susan Hopkins said yesterday that there was evidence that people with the new variant had higher viral loads.

But she said that didn't mean people were getting sick.

Ravi Gupta, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said, "People are unlikely to get sick, but it could make it difficult to control."

If the virus becomes difficult to control and hospitals are overrun, it could present new challenges.

Are mutations unusual?

Seasonal influenza mutates every year. Variants of Sars-Cov-2 have also been seen in other countries such as Spain.

However, one scientific paper suggests that the number and combination of changes that have occurred in this new variant may be "unprecedented".

It is believed that most of the mutations observed so far occurred more slowly. Most of the changes also don't affect how easily the virus spreads.

There are already around 4,000 mutations in the spike protein gene.

What caused the mutation?

This is still being investigated. One theory is that a growing natural immunity in the UK population, making the virus difficult to spread, may have forced it to adapt.

Another theory is that it developed in chronically ill patients who fought the virus for a long time and then passed it on to others.

Prof. Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said yesterday that this was "plausible" and "very likely".

However, he stressed that at the moment it is impossible to prove it.

What evidence is there to support the latter theory?

Some evidence of this was discovered when virus samples were collected from a Cambridge patient. They had been treated with convalescent plasma – blood plasma containing antibodies from a recovered patient.

It is possible that during this treatment the virus may mutate and develop more resistance to the antibodies. This patient died of the infection, but it is also possible that the mutation occurred elsewhere.

An article co-authored by Andrew Rambaut, Professor of Molecular Evolution at the University of Edinburgh, states: “When antibody therapy is administered after many weeks of chronic infection, the virus population can be unusually large and genetically diverse … which sets the stage for it the rapid fixation of multiple virus genetic changes. & # 39;

Professor Hunter added, "Mutations in viruses are a random event. The longer someone is infected, the more likely a random event is to occur."

What are these mutations doing?

Many occur in what is known as the "receptor binding domain" of the virus spike protein. This helps the virus attach to and gain access to human cells. The mutations make it easier for the virus to bind to the ACE2 receptors in human cells.

It's also possible that the changes help the virus avoid human antibodies, which would otherwise help fight off infection.

Who discovered it?

It was discovered by the Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, which is doing random genetic sequencing of positive Covid-19 samples.

It's a consortium made up of the four UK health authorities, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and 12 academic institutions.

How long has it been in the UK and where did it start?

There were more than 1,000 cases in nearly 60 different municipalities in mid-December, although the real number will be higher.

They were found predominantly in the south east of England, Kent and London. It can now make up 60 percent of the falls of the capital.

But it was discovered elsewhere, including Wales and Scotland.

The two earliest samples were collected in Kent on September 20th and in London the next day.

Why weren't measures taken earlier?

Because the potentially greater transferability was only discovered by scientists at the end of last week.

Was it discovered anywhere else in the world?

One aspect of the new variant, known as the N501Y mutation, was in circulation between June and July in Australia, in July in America, and as early as April in Brazil, according to scientists.

It is therefore unclear what role travelers carrying the virus may have played.

Dr. Julian Tang, virologist and respiratory research expert at the University of Leicester, said: "Whether these viruses were later brought to Britain and Europe by travelers or spontaneously appeared in several places around the world – in response to human host immune selection pressures – requires more Investigations. & # 39;

Another change, known as the D614G variant, has already been noted in Western Europe and North America. However, it is possible that the new variant developed in the UK.

What can I do to avoid the new variant?

As always, keep your distance from people, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask, and adhere to animal restrictions in your area.

Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the British Medical Association, said yesterday: “The way you control the spread of the virus, including this new variant, is exactly the same. The point is to continue strict measures. The same rules apply. & # 39;

Will the new variant reduce the effectiveness of vaccines?

More studies are needed.

Dr. Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said that until then, scientists cannot be sure whether and by how much the new variant will reduce the effectiveness of vaccines developed.

She said, "The vaccine induces a strong multiple response, immune response and therefore it is unlikely that this vaccine response will have completely disappeared." If mutations occur, it is theoretically possible that the antibodies produced by vaccines could be bypassed.

However, vaccines produce a variety of antibodies that attack the virus from different angles at the same time, making it difficult to evade them all at once.

Vaccines could also be tweaked to make them more effective if the new mutation proves more resistant to them.

What are the scientists doing now?

Scientists will grow the new strain in the laboratory to see how it reacts. This involves examining whether it elicits the same antibody response as it reacts to the vaccine and modeling the new strain.

It can take up to two weeks for this process to complete.

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