New Covid variant and looming Brexit disruption deepen UK economic gloom

Our latest snapshot of key economic indicators show retail sales falling, job losses soaring, GDP growth and stock market stalling

The number of new confirmed coronavirus infections has rapidly escalated across the UK in the past month, fuelled by a faster-spreading variant of the virus in the south-east of England. In response, Boris Johnson launched tougher tier 4 lockdown restrictions for much of London and the south-east, cancelling the Christmas plans of millions of people just days after saying such a move would be “inhuman”. Devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also launched tougher restrictions. After declining during the second national lockdown in England in November, the seven-day average of new cases has risen to a record high of 29,812 as of 15 December. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test – which lags behind infections – has increased to a seven-day average of 398, below a peak of almost 1,000 in early April.

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