Good Morning Britain doctor Sarah Jarvis has warned the nation that the new strain of Covid-19 could be incredibly damaging for the NHS as it can spread quicker – however it doesn't cause any more serious an illness.
Over the weekend, areas of the South East of England, including London, were dragged into a stricter Tier 4, with millions of people having their Christmas plans greatly affected.
However Dr Sarah said that the new rules are important as it's vital to help the NHS operate as normal as possible and not put too much pressure on it.
She said: "This is a new strain of the virus, we are talking about an increase in the R number, between 0.4 and 0.9, that's a huge increase in the degree of spread.
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"We have seen cases in the areas worst affected doubling almost every seven days, despite having tier restrictions.
"So this really is spreading fast, but there is no evidence that this strains causes more serious illness, although it does cause just as serious illness if you're vulnerable or elderly."
She explained that the surge in cases is seeing hospitals across the South East banning non-urgent services, meaning other patients could be badly affected.
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"What we see is that hospitals in Kent, University College London, Whipps Cross, Leicester, hospitals across the South East of England and spreading out from that small patch where it started, are declaring critical incidents, they are banning non-urgent services," she said.
"In Wales, they have also banned non-urgent operations, and I really fear we will see what we saw in the first lockdown, which was all those people on waiting lists for non-Covid conditions waiting longer."
Dr Sarah explained there are 123-times more people waiting for longer than a year for a non-Covid-related issue than this time last year.
She added: "Unfortunately, 2.3million people waiting more than 18 months – that's before this starts."
On Saturday, Boris Johnson announced a new Tier 4 which means those in affected areas must stay at home unless they have a "reasonable excuse" like working (when it cannot be done from home), essential activities (such as buying groceries), fulfilling legal obligations, education, childcare, outdoor exercise, communal worship and some other situations.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV
- Good Morning Britain
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