Anyone would have guessed that a sprint to final Brexit deal-- successful or not-- would have been the top story in England this week. After all, Britain is out of the EU without a trade and customs deal as of 11pm on December 31 unless Boris Johnson accepts the EU's final offer (which included none of the concessions he demanded). But this story has been pushed off the front-pages by a new variant of COVID-19 that is spreading rapidly through London and southeast England. The mutated virus was "first detected in September. In November around a quarter of cases in London were the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December... If the new variant means more people are infected more quickly, that would in turn lead to more people needing hospital treatment."
Last week, the British government locked down London and moved to isolate it from the erst of the country. Over the weekend, the rest of the world began to isolate the whole U.K. Over 30 countries-- including France (including the Eurotunnel), Ireland, Holland, Spain, Germany, India, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, the 3 Baltic countries, Norway, Finland, Bulgaria, Argentina, Austria, Romania, Croatia, Malta, Greece, Ecuador, Belgium, Russia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Peru, Israel, Morocco, Kuwait, Jordan, Chile-- have banned travel from and to England. Andrew Cuomo has asked Trump to do likewise but the increasingly delusional president is too busy tweeting about his coup to be bothered by protecting the country.
Zachary Basu, reporting for Axios this morning, tied the two disasters-- the pandemic and Brexit-- together by noting that the travel restrictions are disrupting vital supply chains just days before the U.K. is set to end the Brexit transition period without a free trade agreement with the EU-- its largest and closest trading partner. A no-deal Brexit could cause massive damage to a British economy that's already been ravaged by the pandemic."
The mutant virus has already shown up in Italy, Denmark and Holland. Basu reported that "The discovery of the apparent increase in transmissibility forced Johnson to U-turn this weekend on a plan to soften coronavirus restrictions for five days to allow Brits to travel to see family and friends over Christmas. Just days after Johnson said cancelling Christmas would be 'inhuman,' the government ordered London and southeast England-- where Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the new variant is 'getting out of control'-- to enter into the strictest form of lockdown... A no-deal Brexit with the EU, which negotiators now see as 'very likely,' had already been expected to cause mass chaos at the ports that have now been blocked off due to coronavirus-related border closures. Critics of Johnson's government have demanded that he ask for an extension to the transition period, fearing the dueling crises of a no-deal Brexit and an out-of-control pandemic could be catastrophic for the British economy. Johnson, who was elected on his promise to deliver Brexit, has consistently ruled out an extension."
Yesterday, the U.K. had the second most new confirmed cases in the world, after Trumpistan-- 35,928, bringing the national total to 2,040,147, almost 30,000 cases per million residents (about as bad as ). The U.K. has the 6th most number of COVID-related deaths in the world:
USA- 324,869 deaths (979 deaths per million residents)
Brazil- 186,773 deaths (876 deaths per million residents)
India- 145,843 deaths (105 deaths per million residents)
Mexico- 117,876 deaths (910 deaths per million residents)
Italy- 68,799 deaths (1,139 deaths per million residents)
UK- 67,401 deaths (990 deaths per million residents)
France- 60,549 deaths (927 deaths per million residents)
Iran- 53,625 deaths (635 deaths per million residents)
Russia- 50,858 deaths (348 deaths per million residents)
Spain- 48,925 deaths (1,046 deaths per million residents)