The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce tougher coronavirus restrictions in a television broadcast scheduled for 8pm tonight (Monday 4 January).
These are expected to include keeping all schools closed in the coming weeks, with a shift to online lessons.
There are suggestions that the measures will amount in effect to another full national lockdown.
Mr Johnson is also expected to recall Parliament on Wednesday to approve the necessary statutory changes in response to the mutant covid strain that has been spreading rapidly in the past month.
Sky TV quoted 10 Downing Street as saying: “The spread of the new variant of covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.
“The PM is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.
“He will set those out this evening.”
Brighton and Hove City Council said at the weekend that the rate for the city in the week to Wednesday 30 December was 492.4 per 100,000 people.
Less than month earlier, in the week to Tuesday 1 December, the rate was just 59 cases per 100,000.
On one day alone, Tuesday 29 December, a peak of 341 new cases were confirmed, with the rate having risen almost 60 per cent from the previous seven-day period.
The council said that the figure was likely to be higher as more cases were recorded.
At the weekend the council advised all primary schools in Brighton and Hove to switch to online learning in response to the rapid spread of the virus.
And yesterday Mr Johnson refused to condemn the council when asked about its stance on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC TV.
Mr Marr asked if the government would take legal action against the council, as it had threatened to do when Greenwich council in London told schools there that they should close.
The government not only reversed its position but said that all primary schools in London should shut their doors.
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