As the hopes of controlling the COVID 19 pandemic were on a high, reports have emerged that a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified across the South East of England. This new strain can spread more rapidly and easily. Here's what we know so far.
- The new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified across the South East of England.
- The variant, named as ‘VUI – 202012/01’ is highly contagious - it spreads more easily and rapidly. Experts say it is up to 70% “more transmissible”
- Britain has described the situation due to the new strain of coronavirus in the country as “out of control”.
- The British government have announced a "stay at home" order for London and southeast England The measures will mean around a third of England's population cannot travel or meet other households for Christmas. It was a dramatic step-up after Johnson said last week that it would be "inhuman" to "cancel Christmas" by banning family gatherings, though he urged people to have small celebrations.
- Belgium, Netherlands France and Saudi Arabia have suspended flights from the UK on Sunday and several other countries planning similar step to prevent this fast-spreading virus strain. Italy blocked all flights from the UK till January 6. Germany, Kuwait, Israel and Austria have also imposed similar restrictions.
Update: India has also on Monday banned flights to and from the UK till December 31
- In India, the Union health ministry called for an emergency meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) on Monday morning to discuss the new strain.
- As on date, there is no evidence that the new strain leading to higher death rates or other risks.
- Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the strain has any impact on disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy. Experts say it’s “unlikely” that it won’t respond to a vaccine.
- As the virus spreads more quickly, then more people will fall ill which will overload the medical facilities.