Covid cases continue to rise in the UK – particularly in London and the South East – which has put a hold on Christmas plans for millions of people. But should we be concerned about the new coronavirus variant? Is it more dangerous?
A new strain of Covid has been identified in the UK, Public Health England has confirmed.
Scientists and politicians were left confused as to why lockdown measures didn’t appear to be working in parts of the South East last month.
Despite the strictest measures coming into force, the number of coronavirus cases continued to rise; particularly in Kent.
After genetic analysis, scientists confirmed that the rising cases may be linked to a new strain of COVID-19.
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“The variant carries 14 defining mutations including seven in the spike protein, the protein that mediates entry of the virus into human cells,” said UCL Senior Research Fellow, Lucy van Dorp.
She wrote for The Conversation: “This is a relatively large number of changes compared to the many variants we have in circulation globally.
“It is important to note that many of the mutations defining the UK variant have been observed in SARS-CoV-2 before and even sometimes quite early in the pandemic.
“The high number of mutations and the recent increase in prevalence of this particular variant, together with the biological relevance of some of the mutation candidates, emphasises the need for in-depth study.”
More than 40 countries have banned UK arrivals over fears of the new Covid strain.
Countries including Spain, India, Italy, Canada, Portugal and Germany have stopped all incoming flights from the UK in order to contain the spread of the virus.
It’s believed that the Covid variant is largely based in London and the South East of England, although it’s likely to be in most parts of the UK.
While it’s still unclear whether the variant originated in the UK, British scientists were the first to identify the new strain.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to cancel Christmas plans for millions of people last weekend, over fears of the new mutant coronavirus.
The government originally planned to let up to three households mix for five days over the festive period.
But those plans were shattered on Saturday (December 19), after London and parts of the South East were ushered into tier 4 restrictions – a new set of tighter rules.
The highest tier has been likened to a complete lockdown, with the ‘Stay at home’ message once again introduced.