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Top stories this morning 0:00
Millions of people in the south and east of England are preparing for tougher Covid restrictions from Saturday amid a rising number of cases.
Thirty-eight million people will be living under tier three rules from 00:01 GMT.
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire will move up a tier, as are parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.
Meanwhile, a six-week lockdown in Northern Ireland starts on 26 December.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the new tier levels in England “necessary”, and urged people to take “personal responsibility” for their actions to help curb the spread of the virus.
He told the Commons: “We’ve come so far, we mustn’t blow it now.”
The announcement of the changes came as the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England showed that Covid cases are rising in all but one region.
London had the highest rate, at 319.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week to December 13, up from 199.9 in the previous week. The rate went from 152.9 to 249.1 in eastern England, and from 167.6 to 238.7 in the South East.
And it prompted fresh concern about the decision by all four UK nations to relax restrictions and allow more mixing for five days over Christmas.
Ministers have issued updated guidance for the festive period but Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said it will “undoubtedly lead to more cases, more pressure on NHS and care services, and more deaths”.
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