London, December 14: UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday claimed that a "new variant" of the coronavirus maybe responsible for the faster spread of infections in the country. The patients diagnosed with the new variant of COVID-19 were found in South England, he said, while announcing tier 3 restrictions in London and parts of South East.

Hancock, while speaking in the House of Commons, said the new variant is likely responsible for the "sharp and exponential surge" recorded in the past few days. The UK government has fulfilled its international obligation by reporting the new variant to the World Health Organisation (WHO), he told the lawmakers. First COVID-19 Vaccine Administered in US, Tweets Donald Trump Days After Pfizer-BioNTech Approval.

Around 1,000 patients, based in southern UK, have been diagnosed with the new variant of coronavirus. Considering the spark in transmission rate, a tier 3 set of restrictions have come into effect in Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire from Wednesday.

"Over the last few days, thanks to our world class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus, which may be associated with the faster spread in the south-east of England," he said.

The new variant of the virus, however, is not being considered as more dangerous, he clarified. The situation is expected to be brought under control if locals adhere to the restrictions imposed in their areas, respectively, Hancock said.

On December 12, the country recorded more than 21,000 new infections. The rise in COVID-19 cases in the UK comes amid the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Beginning from the past week, the UK has begun administrating the doses on high-risk groups, frontline workers and senior citizens.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 14, 2020 09:40 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website