THIRD Covid-induced national lockdown ‘probable’ in January, says SAGE expert as 44mln people in England wake up to Tier 4

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A scientist who advises the UK government has warned that yet another national lockdown may be just around the corner as the new virus variant rampages across the country and case numbers in Britain continue to rise.

Speaking on Thursday morning, Mike Tildesley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC Radio that more of the country may need to be in Tier 4, the level with the toughest regional measures, or a total national lockdown. 

“Cases are rising in a really concerning way, so I suspect that unfortunately we will see a ramping-up even further of restrictions, probably more of the country being in Tier 4 or ultimately probably a national lockdown before we get to the end of January,” he said. 

Tildesley’s predictions come as an additional 20 million people wake up under Tier 4 measures after Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the decision to extend the toughest restrictions to three-quarters of the population.

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Hancock’s announcement on Wednesday means that only the Isles of Scilly, a picturesque archipelago off Cornwall, is not subjected to Tier 3 or Tier 4 measures and is the only place in all of England where pubs are open. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of his “bitter regret” but said the country was forced to take further action. 

On Wednesday the UK announced that the Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca had been approved and rollout would begin on January 4. 

The good news was tempered by the surging infection rates across the country, as a new virus variant, prevalent across the UK, is “56% more transmissible,” according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

On Wednesday health authorities registered 50,023 new infections and 981 deaths.

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