Jeremy Vine: Dr Sarah says new Covid strain 'game changer'
Covid deaths have surpassed 70,000 in the UK, after a torrid 2020 turned everyday life upside down. Christmas plans have now been scrapped after scientists have identified a new Covid variant that appears to spread more easily among the public. Has the coronavirus variant spread to other countries?
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.
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Has the new Covid variant spread to any other countries?
A handful of countries have reported cases of the new Covid variant.
It’s been spotted in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Australia, it’s believed.
Italy reported their first case of the Covid variant on Monday morning (December 21).
British travellers arrived in Italy without coronavirus symptoms, but later tested positive for the new Covid strain.
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Denmark, meanwhile, reported nine cases of the Covid variant last month.
Two cases have been identified in Australia, while the Netherlands has also reported just one case of the variant.
Northern Ireland’s first minister has already confirmed that it’s “probable” the new strain has arrived in the country.
Several countries around the world have now banned inbound arrivals from the UK.
More evidence is needed before we know whether the new variant is more deadly than the original coronavirus, but there’s certainly reason to be concerned, according to the University of Leeds’s Dr Stephen Griffin.
“The new SARS2 variant may well be cause for significant concern, and all the more reason to be vigilant,” he said.
“However, that it has taken an event of this nature to provoke a reaction from the government says more about the current scenario in the UK and the long term view of how this came to be, rather than the naturally upsetting and disappointing false promises over Christmas that have now been revoked.
“It is clear that failure to make good on the sacrifices made during the first lockdown, suppress infection rates over summer, and replace the failed corporate TTI system has led directly to the resurgence seen since September, the need for a second (and likely a third) lockdown, and ultimately an environment in which SARS-COV-2 is able to thrive and evolve.”
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.
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