People need to behave as if they already have COVID-19, especially in the new Tier 4 areas of England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned.

He said the new strain of coronavirus was “out of control” and “we need to get it under control by reducing social contact”.

The five-day Christmas bubble period has been reduced to just Christmas Day for England, Wales and Scotland – and scrapped completely for areas in England under new Tier 4 rules – but remains in Northern Ireland.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned the new virus is ‘out of control’

Mr Hancock told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Everybody, particularly people in Tier 4 areas, needs to behave as if they might well have the virus – that is the only way we are going to get it under control.”

He said the country faces an “enormous challenge” controlling the new strain of COVID-19 and it was “more important now than ever” that people stick to the rules and reduce social contact “because this is deadly serious”.

“This is a deadly disease, we need to keep it under control, and it has been made more difficult by this new variant.”

And he said scenes of people queueing at train stations, rushing to leave London before the new measures came into force this morning, was “totally irresponsible behaviour”.

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