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UK to find out what is happening with tier 4 at 3pm today

The Health Secretary will hold a press conference this afternoon as a new variant of coronavirus drives fears more of the country could go into a tier 4 lockdown.

It is expected to be held at 3pm.

Matt Hancock is expected to update the nation on efforts to contain Covid-19.

Earlier today, it was announced that the estimated R rate for coronavirus across the UK has risen to between 1.1 and 1.3, according to the latest official figures.

Figures published by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show the figure has risen slightly from between 1.1 and 1.2 last week.

The R number represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

It comes amid speculation that more of England will be plunged into tier four from as early as Boxing Day.

Whitehall sources said there was a ‘high’ chance of a lockdown by the New Year.

They told the Telegraph: ‘The expectation now is that we get through Christmas, but after that the chances of a full lockdown in the new year look pretty high.’

Current tier restrictions are due to be reviewed on December 30, but the government will take emergency action before that date if necessary.

More follows.

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