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Novel COVID-19 strain: UK takes urgent travel restrictions to stem the spread of ‘worst thing we’ve ever seen’ | UK News




The UK is putting travel restrictions on six African countries due to a new strain of COVID-19 that UK experts call “the worst they’ve ever seen”.

Health Minister Sajid Javid tweeted: “The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is investigating a new strain. More data is needed but precautions are being taken now.

“Six African countries have been added to the red list, flights are temporarily banned, and UK travelers must be quarantined.”

Javid said the new B.1.1.529 variant identified in South Africa could be “more contagious” than the Delta strain, warning that “the vaccine we have today may be less effective.”

UKHSA says it is “the worst I’ve ever seen” and has a spike protein that is “dramatically” different from the original COVID strain.

In addition, this variant has 30 mutations, twice that of the Delta variant, and these mutations are likely to evade the immune response generated by previous infection and vaccination.

But the good news is that B.1.1.529 can be detected with a normal PCR test.

Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from 12pm on Friday, and new arrivals to the UK after 4am on Sunday will require hotel quarantine.

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2:24 ‘Our scientists are deeply concerned’: Javid

So far, no cases of this variant have been reported in the UK, and anyone who has traveled from one of these countries in the past 10 days is invited to come forward for testing.

Currently, around 500-700 people from South Africa travel to the UK every day, but this number is expected to rise through Christmas.

Virgin Atlantic reported receiving more than 32,000 bookings from South Africa in October alone, mostly for the rest of 2021, according to aviation analyst Alex Macheras.

Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, described the mutation as “really terrifying”, but said the current case is “very low”.

Image: South Africa is delivering vaccines faster than currently available.

Spike proteins are what viruses use to get into human cells, and some vaccines work by training the body to recognize and neutralize spikes.

So, mutations in spikes could be potentially problematic.

However, with only a handful of cases recorded, three from Botswana, 53 from South Africa and one from Hong Kong by a person traveling from South Africa, scientists hope it can be contained.

“Unless the frequency starts to increase in the near future, there is no reason to be overly concerned,” said Francois Balloux, professor of computer systems biology at University College London.

Image: During the summer, the train was turned into an immunization center, allowing South Africa to reach adults in remote communities.

In South Africa, a coronavirus strain spread rapidly among young people in the country’s most populous district of Gauteng.

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Paala said that “the number has increased exponentially in the last four or five days.”

Until recently, it reported about 200 confirmed cases per day, but it increased rapidly over the past week to 2,465 on Thursday.

Scientists from seven universities in South Africa are currently studying the variant and are trying to determine how many of these new cases are involved.

Rabindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, warns that many new cases in South Africa are “highly likely” to be related to new strains.

Only 41% of South African adults are vaccinated and are receiving 130,000 jabs per day.

The country is delivering the vaccine faster than is currently available. In other words, officials are delaying deliveries in order not to “stock and stock” the vaccine.

World Health Organization (WHO) experts will meet on Friday to evaluate the strains classified as being monitored on Wednesday.

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If upgraded to a variant of concern, it could be given a name from the Greek alphabet and would most likely be called Nu.

However, it may also be classified as a less severe strain of interest, indicating that it has traits that may influence factors such as contagiousness and disease severity.

It may take several weeks to generate all the necessary information about the characteristics of this strain.

To date, the Delta strain is the most contagious and currently accounts for more than 99% of the sequences submitted by countries worldwide.




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