Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to hold an emergency cabinet meeting today amid fears over a possible third lockdown.
The PM is calling the meeting at 1pm today (December 19) to discuss concerns over the new variant of coronavirus.
The nation will then be addressed at 4pm as the PM is set to outline the next steps in a press conference at Downing Street.
Mr Johnson has come under pressure over his controversial ‘Christmas bubbles’ and has said this week he is hoping to avoid another national lockdown.
Covid-19 rates continue to soar in some parts of the UK with cases rising in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire which are both in Tier 3.
Health experts earlier issued a chilling warning that a mutant coronavirus strain is 50% more contagious than previous Covid-19 cases.
The weekly number of new cases has increased in seven out of the eight local authority areas in Staffordshire – with Tamworth the only exception.
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The latest infection rates for all four local authority areas in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are listed below – the figures show the infection rate and number of cases in the week to December 14 compared to the previous week.
Stoke-on-Trent, 326.9, (838), 324.9, (833)
Newcastle-under-Lyme, 202.4, (262), 190.0, (246)
Staffordshire Moorlands, 247.9, (244), 178.8, (176)
Stafford, 245.5, (337), 188.7, (259)
East Staffordshire, Tier 3, 324.8, (389), 235.5, (282)
Lichfield, 175.6, (184), 156.6, (164)
Cannock Chase, 227.3, (229), 163.8, (165)
Tamworth, 136.9, (105), 144.7, (111)