New COVID-19 Variant Sends UK Into Disarray & Forces Travel Bans From Over 20 EU Countries 😳 😱
Say It Ain't So 😩
Starting last week, the UK warned of a new coronavirus variant that is thought to be highly contagious, up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the disease.
This new situation further complicates Brexit talks, and forces the British government to backtrack on plans to let families mix over Christmas, locking down London and other areas in southern England where infections by the Covid mutation are heavily concentrated.
What We Know About The New Variant 👇
Viruses undergoing mutations is nothing new, seasonal influenza mutates every year. As of right now, many news outlets are referring to this new strain as "VUI-202012/01"
On Saturday, current prime minister Boris Johnson said there was “no evidence” the new variant “causes more severe illness or higher mortality” but “it does appear to be passed on significantly more easily”.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has agreed with the above, saying that studies suggest the new strain is substantially more transmissible, he also added that there was a “working assumption” that vaccines should still work against the new strain.
“If the new variant was going to have a big impact on disease severity, we would have seen that by now”
- Ewan Birney, deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
In addition, Birney said the vaccines have been tested with many variants of the virus circulating. “So there is every reason to think that the vaccines will still work against this new strain, though obviously that needs to be tested thoroughly.”
“Hospital cases as a proportion of numbers of infections would have either skyrocketed or dropped dramatically. Neither has happened, so we can conclude that the impact on numbers is likely to be modest.”
The UK Situation 🇬🇧
An EU Crisis Meeting has been called for Monday the 21st to discuss the coordination of the response to coronavirus among the 27-member states.
The U.K. government has also said it will hold a crisis meeting on Monday to discuss the international travel situation.
If you are living in one of the newly created tier 4 areas, which encompasses London and parts of the south-east and east of England, you are not allowed to travel abroad.
Government guidance states people can only travel internationally if they are “legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work”.
Across England, people are advised to stay local and avoid travelling outside their area, for those living in tier 1, 2, and 3 areas, the guidance advises potential international travellers to carefully consider whether they must travel abroad.
People are also warned to check travel advice from the FCDO and what rules are in place at their destination. For many countries the FCDO is advising against “all but essential travel”.
Travel Bans So Far:
Many international train & ferry links have stopped running, Eurostar said it was unable to run trains from London to Paris, Brussels, Lille or Amsterdam.
A growing number of European nations have banned travel from the UK in a bid to stop the mutant strain of coronavirus crossing their borders, namely: France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands just to mention a few - all of these countries have said they will halt flights arriving from the UK.
Even Ireland, which usually has significant passenger traffic with the U.K. at this time of year, announced flights arriving from England, Wales and Scotland would be banned for at least 48 hours from midnight.
Other countries, including Canada, Israel, Columbia, Turkey and Morocco have also imposed new measures barring flights from the U.K.
"There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a many different locations especially where there are increased cases being detected."
- Dr Susan Hopkins, Test & Trace & PHE Joint Medical Advisor.
Stay Safe In This Delicate Time 😷
The best way to stop infection is to stick to the rules – wash your hands, wear a mask and keep your distance from others.
While it may be very tempting to host 3 different Christmas parties for your friends and family, please bear the global situation in mind. Get tested regularly & practice all safety measures!