Londoners under lockdown again
PIC: AFP

Britain's capital will be placed under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday amid a "very sharp" spike in COVID-19 cases in London and its surrounding areas and a new variant of coronavirus being identified as responsible for the "faster spread", the UK government announced in Parliament on Monday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons that "swift and decisive action" was needed as the doubling rate of the deadly virus has hit just seven days in many of these areas.

Tier-3 restrictions, the highest level in England's three-tier system, mean a near-complete lockdown.

"A new variant of coronavirus has been identified in the UK, which may be associated with the fastest spread in the southeast of England," said Hancock.

The minister said that experts had identified over 1,000 cases with the variant, predominantly in the south of England.

"Cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas and numbers are increasing rapidly.

Similar variants have been identified in other countries over the last few months," he said, adding that the World Health Organisation has been notified about the variant and that it is unlikely to cause more serious disease than other variants of the coronavirus.

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