New coronavirus in England: what we know about the virus mutation that worries the authorities
Since its appearance, Sars-CoV-2 has mutated several times. A new variant of the virus has recently been detected in England. According to the government, this strain has been identified in 1,000 Britons and could be related to an "exponential" increase in Covid-19 cases in the southeast of the country.
The new coronavirus continues to mutate. As evidence, a new variant of Sars-CoV-2 has been discovered in the UK. British MPs recently learned that this strain has been growing rapidly in parts of England in recent days.
"Currently we have identified more than 1,000 cases of Covid-19 caused by this variant, mainly in the south of England, although cases have been identified in almost 60 different local authorities," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of the Commons on December 14.
He added that the World Health Organization (WHO) had been informed of the discovery and that British scientists were conducting detailed studies to understand this mutation of the new coronavirus.
Covid-19: is this variant of the virus identified in England more dangerous?
Matt Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons that an "exponential" increase in Covid-19 infections was seen last week in London, Kent and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. According to the Health Secretary, this strain "could be associated with a more rapid spread of the virus in south-east England. Early analyzes suggest that this variant is spreading faster than existing variants."
The Secretary of Health explained that "currently there are no indications that this variant is more likely to cause serious diseases." "It is highly unlikely that this mutation will not respond to a vaccine, but it shows that we have to be vigilant and follow the rules," he continued.
Englands chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told the BBC that current PCR tests will detect the new variant which has been found mainly in Kent and neighboring areas in recent weeks.
At this time, there is no evidence that this mutation has made the virus more dangerous. "Lets not be hysterical. This does not mean that it is more transmissible, more infectious or more dangerous," Professor Alan McNally, an expert from the University of Birmingham, told the BBC.
Covid-19: parts of southeast England will be on high alert
"We do not know how much of this is due to the new variant, but whatever the cause, we must take swift and decisive action, which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this disease while the vaccine is implemented," Matt Hancock reported.
Therefore, the government has decided to toughen sanitary measures in the UK. The Health Secretary announced on December 14 that London and parts of south-east England will go to the "very high" alert level for Covid-19 on the night of December 15-16. This step to the third level of alert marks the closure of cultural venues, hotels and pubs. Restaurants will also be closed, except those that can offer take-out or delivery.