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Which Countries Are Now Reporting COVID Variant Discovered in UK?

Which countries have reported the new variant? What is the source of the infection? Here’s what we know till now.

Updated
F.A.Q
3 min read
France has confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain.
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The US state of Colorado has recorded America's first case of the new variant of COVID-19 that emerged recently in the United Kingdom.

"Today we discovered Colorado's first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK," state governor Jared Polis tweeted.

While US has not closed their borders with Britain, several countries closed their borders with the country over the particularly infectious new variant.

Which countries have reported the new variant? What is the source of the infection? Here’s what we know till now.

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Which countries are reporting the variant, first discovered in the UK?

According to various media reports, the variant is now found in:

  • United States
  • India
  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Denmark
  • The Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Switzerland

What is the situation in India?

India recorded 14 fresh cases of the new coronavirus mutant strain taking the total number of such cases to 20, the government said on 30 December. The samples of international passengers who test positive are being sent for genome testing.

Was it carried by travelers from the UK to all these countries?

Not really.

The infected person in America is a "male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history." The individual did not come in contact with anyone with a travel history, nor is he at high-risk.

The cases in Canada – identified in a couple in Ontario – have no travel history or exposure to high-risk contact.

“This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today,” Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer Barbara Yaffe told Reuters, imposing a temporary lockdown on the area.

What’s the situation in some countries where cases have been discovered recently?

Sweden: The new variant was detected after a traveler from Britain fell ill on arrival and tested positive, The Guardian reported. The traveler was kept isolated on arrival and no further positive cases had been detected since 26 December. Sweden has imposed travel restrictions on the UK over the new variant.

Spain: Four people, who recently arrived from Britain to Madrid, tested positive for the new variant, Madrid regional government’s Deputy Health Chief Antonio Zapatero told reporters. “The patients are not seriously ill, we know that this strain is more transmissible, but it does not cause more serious illness. There is no need for alarm.”

France: France confirmed its first case of the new variant – a French citizen who had arrived from London on 19 December, the health ministry said.

Japan: The two cases of the variant in Japan are a pilot in his 30s who returned to Japan from London and one of his family members with no travel history.

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Why is the new variant concerning?

The new variant is named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. Changes in this part of spike protein may, in theory, result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.

According to a BBC report, three factors are causing concern over the new variant of COVID-19:

  • It is said to spread faster than the other versions – 70 percent more infectious
  • It is the most common version of the virus in the UK
  • There have been changes to the spike protein of the virus, which plays a key role in unlocking the doorway to the body's cells

Does this mean the variant is more dangerous?

There is no evidence to support this yet. However, the increase in rate of transmission means more people could get infected than before and this leads to an added burden on an already strained healthcare system, with more people needing hospital treatment.

Susan Hopkins, joint medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England, said:

“There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a wide geography, especially where there are increased cases being detected.”  

Has a mutation happened before?

The COVID-19 virus originated in Wuhan in November 2019 and the variant of the virus found in different corners of the world, will be different.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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