A HARROWING new ad blitz hit TV screens this evening to guilt-trip Brits into staying home as it was revealed the new strain was even more deadly.
In a bid to get lockdown-weary people to follow the rules, the emotive advertisement shows people raw footage of patients sick with Covid and NHS staff struggling to look after them.
😷 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The clip shows: “Can you look them in the eyes and tell them you’re helping by staying at home?”
It features staff from the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital working around the clock to keep people alive.
Dr Anil Rajashekar, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, said: "We are seeing everyday patients dying right in front of us."
And Bibi Heerah, a Domestic Assistant added: "I saw so many people die here. Really heart broken."
Mohammed, a Covid-19 Patient warned: "12 days I’ve been here, my breath is still not coming back."
It comes after the shock revelation the new super-contagious variant of the virus is also up to 30 per cent more deadly.
Professor Neil Ferguson, who sits on NERVTAG, told ITV's Robert Peston today: "It is a realistic possibility that the new UK variant increases the risk of death, but there is considerable remaining uncertainty.
"Four groups - Imperial, LSHTM, PHE and Exeter - have looked at the relationship between people testing positive for the variant vs old strains and the risk of death.
"That suggests a 1.3-fold increased risk of death. So for 60 year-olds, 13 in 1000 might die compared with 10 in 1000 for old strains."
Another patient, named only as Lorna, begged the nation to take it seriously, adding: "This is as scary as it gets. My mum was one of our disbelievers and she's on the next floor up from here. "
The heart-wrenching ad reminds viewers that someone is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds with the virus - and a quarter of those are under the age of 55.
Latest COVID-19 stats show the UK has seen the highest number of deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic, with over 1,000 people dying per day for the last 10 days.
Matt Hancock added: “The NHS is under intense pressure. They are relying on all of us to follow the rules."
The Health Secretary acknowledged "how long the last few months have felt" but urged people to keep following the tough rules.
He added: "We have come too far to let up now. "
The powerful new campaign will run across TV, radio, press, digital, out of home advertising and social media.
There are signs the lockdown is working and the R rate, which represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid onto, is now between 0.8 and 1, Sage today said.
It was estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3 nationally last week, when the growth rate also suggested the outbreak was continuing to get worse.
When R is below 1, it means transmission is low and the epidemic is shrinking - but greater than that number suggests it's growing.
The last time the reproduction value was below 1 in the UK was December 11 and peaked a fortnight ago when the range was between 1 and 1.4.
While the R number is heading in the right direction, experts warn that it remains dangerously close to the crucial 1 value.
COVID UPDATEWhat did the Prime Minister say in his speech, Friday 22 January?
FATAL TOLLUK Covid deaths up 1,401 and 40,261 new cases as deadly new strain takes hold
DEADLY STRAINMutant Covid strain is between 30-90% more deadly - but jab still works
'NO TIME FOR SEX'Married teacher, 35, claims she was 'too busy' for sex with pupil, 15
SMUGGLERS JAILED4 people-smugglers jailed 78 years after 39 migrants found dead in lorry
R-AY OF HOPEOfficial Covid R rate finally BELOW 1 - & could be as low as 0.6 in some areas