The British Prime Minister said he is “taking action” to stop cases of coronavirus strains found in Brazil.
Conversing with members of the Liaison Committee, Boris Johnson is “concerned” about the variant, adding: “I think it makes sense to say that there are still many questions.”
“We are already taking strong steps to protect the country from new infections coming from abroad,” he said.
“We are taking steps to do this with the Brazilian variant.”
COVID-19: what is a variant?
The prime minister has not announced a ban on travel in Latin American countries, but has instead promised that British border controls could prevent foreign infections.
The new strains in Brazil differ from those found in the UK and South Africa, where cases have soared.
The UK has already banned direct flights from South Africa to limit the spread of more contagious strains.
At a committee hearing, MP Yvette Cooper asked the Prime Minister why it is still possible to make a direct flight from Brazil to the UK.
Johnson replied that the government “is taking steps to prevent it from seeing the income of the new variant,” but did not go into further detail.
On Sunday, the Japanese Ministry of Health said a novel coronavirus strain was discovered in four travelers arriving in Japan from the Brazilian state of Amazonas.
Takaji Wakita of Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases said “there is no evidence” that the strains found in Brazil could be further spread.
PM expresses concern over Brazilian transformation
Of the four travelers who arrived in Tokyo on January 2nd, men in their 40s had trouble breathing, women in their 30s had headaches and sore throats, and men in their teens had fever. The teenage girl showed no symptoms, the Ministry of Health said.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus strain has raised concerns about the effectiveness of the current vaccine.
Vaccine Development Minister Nadim Zahawi said a new COVID-19 jab could be manufactured in just 30 to 40 days if the virus strain was found to be less responsive to the available virus.
He told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that action was taken to create a “next iteration” of the jab if necessary.
There is no evidence that currently released vaccines will not be effective against coronavirus strains, of which three are currently being widely discussed in the UK.
The new strain, first identified in Kent, is more than 70% more likely to be contagious and is widely believed to be behind a surge in infection late last year. UK just before Christmas, Brazilian variant to be imposed with travel restrictions, little known but currently concerned within Downing Street
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Beginning on Friday, people traveling to the UK from abroad must prove that they were tested negative for coronavirus 72 hours before departure.
Last week it was reported that the same rule would be enforced in Wales and Scotland, but dates for these countries have yet to be confirmed.
Earlier, the Prime Minister told Commons that a 24/7 COVID-19 vaccination center would be distributed “as soon as possible”.
He also said that the recent coronavirus restrictions “are starting to show signs of some impact,” but declined to rule out more stringent measures.
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