The new variant of COVID is most prevalent in London and the South East but is rapidly spreading through the rest of the country.
Council leaders in Liverpool have called for a national lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of new cases of COVID-19, driven by the new variant, has reached “alarming levels” and urgent action is required to save lives and the NHS, according to the city’s acting mayor, Wendy Simon, and the Labour-run city council’s cabinet.
The new variant is more transmissible and, while it is most prevalent in London and the South East, it is rapidly spreading through the rest of the country.
Cases in Liverpool have almost trebled in the past two weeks, to 350 per 100,000, despite a successful community testing pilot which saw the city move from Tier 3 into Tier 2 earlier in the winter.
The call for a new lockdown was made in a statement from the city council, from Ms Simon and the cabinet member for public health, Paul Brant.
Their statement said: “The stark reality is that today this virulent new strain of the virus is very much on the rise and we need to act now to prevent a crisis that will unleash even more pain and anguish.
“We need the government to listen to those at the frontline, both in our hospitals and frontline services.
“We as a nation can cope with a lockdown. We have before and we can again. The quicker we move into one now, the more lives will be saved and the quicker a recovery will be.
“Yes, there will be pain for our retail and hospitality sectors, but they want long term security and a strong recovery and a lockdown provides both.
“An additional package of welfare and economic support will also be needed, especially to protect the most vulnerable.”
They added: “Let’s get ahead of the curve and act now. We all know too well the dire consequences and costs if we don’t, particularly to the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Millions of Britons have made many sacrifices these past 10 months and none of us want to see those efforts go to waste. Much progress has been made to limit the virus, but we can only do so much as individuals.
“The country is currently facing a catastrophe that will undo much of what has been achieved if we do not act as one.”
A government spokeswoman said: “We strengthened our measures by introducing Tier 4 two weeks ago, based on advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), and it is vital everyone continues to follow the rules to reduce transmission in their areas, save lives and protect our NHS.
“We keep the spread of COVID-19 under constant review based on latest medical and scientific data and have been clear we will not hesitate to take actions necessary to protect local communities.”