UK records another 20,263 coronavirus cases, 232 deaths

LONDON, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Another 20,263 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,869,666, according to official figures released Monday.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 232 to 64,402, the data showed.

The figures were revealed as British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that London will move into Tier 3, the highest level in England's local coronavirus restriction tier system, from midnight on Wednesday, following a surge of COVID-19 cases in the British capital.

Parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will also be moved into Tier 3, Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament.

Meanwhile, Hancock said a new variant of coronavirus has been identified in Britain and initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants.

"We've currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the South of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas. And numbers are increasing rapidly," he said.

England is currently under a new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions. The system, which put about 98 percent of England into Tier 2 and 3, is due to be reviewed on Wednesday.

Under Tier 3, bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants in London will have to close, except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. Theaters in London will also have to close their doors once again.

According to the governmental guidance, Tier 3 also means that local people must not socialize in a group of more than six in outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility, known as the "rule of six."

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

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