LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called senior ministers to an unscheduled meeting on Friday evening to discuss how to contain a new, more virulent variant of the coronavirus, The Telegraph newspaper reported.
An emergency toughening of COVID-19 restrictions could be announced as soon as Saturday, possibly including restrictions on travel between the southeast of England, including London, and the rest of the country, the newspaper said.
A spokesman for the prime minister said he was unable to comment on the report immediately.
Britain’s government on Monday said a rise in new infections might be partly linked to the new variant as it moved its capital city and other areas into the highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Telegraph also reported on Friday that government officials expected the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine would clear regulatory approval on Dec. 28 or 29, helping to accelerate the vaccination campaign.
Johnson said on Friday he hoped that England would not need to go into a third lockdown after Christmas.
(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in BengaluruWriting by William SchombergEditing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)