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Wedding spreads new mutant COVID strain

A COVID outbreak at a wedding has resulted in 11 guests being infected with the new mutant strain – with none showing symptoms.Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC’s Radio 4 today that his friends went to a wedding with 15 people present, The Sun reports.He said: “I wasn’t there myself. One person afterwards was tested,…

A COVID outbreak at a wedding has resulted in 11 guests being infected with the new mutant strain – with none showing symptoms.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC’s Radio 4 today that his friends went to a wedding with 15 people present, The Sun reports.

He said: “I wasn’t there myself. One person afterwards was tested, not because they were ill but because they had a minor procedure in hospital – they turned out to be positive.

“Everybody else has now taken tests, 11 came back positive and none of them feel ill.

“That is the new very virulent variant of this virus and people carry it with them in a way they don’t know.

“This is a virus which takes no prisoners and only spreads in one way and that’s human contact.”

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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and England’s top doctor Chris Whitty have begged people living in Tier 4 areas not to leave and spread the high velocity bug to other parts of Britain.

The new COVID strain is said to be around 70 per cent more infectious than its original form and has sparked rocketing case numbers across London and the South East.

But Dr Susan Hopkins said every other part of the region has had cases detected in small numbers and risk seeing a similar explosion if infections are allowed to spread further.

She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “It has been detected in many other parts of the country.

“Every region has cases but with very small numbers.

“It has also been detected in Wales, in Scotland, we have not had any detected in Northern Ireland.”

On Saturday night, Professor Chris Whitty begged people to stay at home yesterday evening as the rules were unveiled, warning: “If you have packed a bag, unpack it.”

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Yet within hours there were long queues of traffic on roads out of London and chaotic crushes at railway terminals as people fled to avoid the brutal new restrictions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today slammed the scenes – sighing as he was shown footage of the busy travel terminals.

He said: “This was clearly totally irresponsible behaviour.”

And he cautioned: “Everybody, particularly people in Tier 4 areas, needs to behave as if they might well have the virus – that is the only way we are going to get it under control.”

Later appearing on the The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he added: “We have all got a responsibility.

“We in Government of course have a responsibility, but so does every single person.

“The plea that I have is that people will play their part, because it is only by acting, all of us, that we can get this under control.”

Thurrock in Essex is the COVID hotspot in England, with 1,841 new infections in the last week.

The Tier 4 area has seen its case rate nearly treble in just seven days as a mutant strain rips through London and the South East.

Thurrock now has the fastest rising rate of coronavirus infections in the country after reporting the largest jump in the last seven days.

The current incidence rate of 1,056 cases per 100,000 is three times higher than the figure of 387.2 reported the previous week.

And the area with the second highest increase in the country isn’t too far away with Rochford, also in Essex, seeing the infection rate rise from 266.7 to 864.2 with 755 new cases this week.

British Transport Police are expected to deploy additional officers to ensure only essential journeys are taking place to stop people from leaving Tier 4 areas.

At St Pancras station, hundreds of people were filmed rushing towards barriers to board the trains leaving the capital over the weekend.

Similar frantic scenes were pictured at Paddington station and King’s Cross.

Traffic on the A40 leaving London was jammed in the hours after Mr Johnson’s bombshell announcement on Saturday night.

A British Transport Police spokesperson said: “As has been the case throughout the pandemic our officers will continue to be highly-visible, patrolling services and stations on the rail network in tier 4 locations and nationwide throughout the Christmas period.

“Officers will continue supporting rail staff in engaging with passengers and reminding those who do need to travel to wear face coverings.

“We hope that the public will continue to act responsibly and play their part in helping to protect themselves, and each other, by following the guidance and restrictions set out by the Government, as well as complying with the requirement to wear face coverings.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun and is republished with permission.

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