New Strain of COVID-19 Found in UK Not ‘Out of Control’: WHO

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier cautioned that the strain was ‘out of control’.

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COVID-19
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Boris Johnson, the prime minister said that the new variant could increase transmission of COVID-19 by as much as 70 percent and increase the R or reproduction number by 0.4.
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The new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the UK, which is said to be 70 percent more transmissible, is not “out of control” yet and can be controlled using existing measures, the World Health Organisation said on Monday, 21 December, according to AFP.

"We have had a much higher (contamination rate) at different points in this pandemic and we've got it under control," WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan said, addressing a press conference.

However, he warned that it should not be left unattended.

“So this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices.”
Michael Ryan

He added that the measures currently in place are correct but stated that there is a need to work harder to contain the spread.

"We need to do what we have been doing, we may just have to do it with a little more intensity and for a little longer to make sure we can bring this virus under control,” he said, according to AFP.

New Strain of COVID-19

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier cautioned that the strain was ‘out of control’, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the new variant ‘may be up to 70 percent more transmissible’.

The strain is believed to have been first detected in September. By November, around a quarter of cases in London were of the new variant. By mid December, the proportion reached two-thirds of the total infections, and over the last one week, the number of cases in London doubled, with at least 60 percent of the infections being from this strain.

While the variant is found across UK, it is heavily concentrated in London and South East England.

BBC, quoting data from Nextstrain, has reported that viral samples around the world suggest that cases in Denmark, Netherlands, and Australia have come from the UK.

Countries Close Borders With UK Over Virus Fears

Beginning Sunday, hours after PM Johnson’s announcement, a growing list of European countries have started to close their borders with the country.

  • The Netherlands was the first nation to ban travel from the UK, saying that it would halt all passenger flights till 1 January, starting Sunday.
  • Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and France announced precautionary travel bans on Sunday, with Italy halting its travel till 6 January.
  • Bulgaria, unlike most other nations which has employed short-term measures, has banned all flights to and from the UK till 31 January 2021.
  • Greece, on the other hand, has imposed a seven-day quarantine period for all travellers coming in from the United Kingdom.

(With inputs from AFP.)

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