In a hurry called the press conference on Saturday, Johnson said the new edition appeared “up to 70% more transitive”, and was responsible for a significant increase in cases in London and southeastern England. Johnson said those areas will now be placed in an increased form of lockdown.
The restrictions are the latest disruption to an epidemic-capped Christmas holiday. As winter descended in the Northern Hemisphere, governments from Asia to Europe tightened social-distortion rules to counter the surge in Kovid-19 cases and resumed lockdown measures. The discovery of the new version has deepened concerns major restrictions will now continue longer into the new year.
Outside the UK, new versions have already been identified in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia.
Australian health officials said two cases of the variants were found in managed quarantine in Sydney, while Italy’s Ministry of Health reported on Sunday that a patient had been infected with the variant and placed under isolation in Rome.
Over time all viruses are mutated and new variants are a common evolution, including the novel coronavirus. A similar variant identified in Britain has also been identified in South Africa, where scientists say it is spreading rapidly in the country’s coastal areas.
What do we know about the new version?
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned on Saturday that the new UK version could “spread more quickly” and accounted for 60% of infections in the capital, almost doubling in the last week alone.
Whitty cautioned that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the new version is more lethal, or would neutralize the effectiveness of the newly approved vaccines. However, more easily spread viruses can result in more cases, resulting in more hospitalizations and possibly more deaths. Even with a vaccine, it can make the spread of the virus less manageable.
Backward tracing using genetic evidence suggests that the new UK variant emerged in September and then disseminated to much lower levels in the population by mid-November according to England Public Health (EPH).
“The increase in cases associated with the new variant first surfaced in late November when PHE was investigating why the rate of infection in Kent is not dropping despite national restrictions. We then saw the rapid spread in London and Essex from this variant Discovered connected clusters, ”the agency said.
Many experts have suggested that this new version could have been extended due to a superspreader event; It can be a mutation in any way and spreads it more easily without causing more serious disease; Or it can happen by chance.
Scientists at EPH have yet to identify the exact mechanism for the possible increase in transmission, although usually a mutation in the spike protein, the part of the virus that attaches itself to host cells, may increase its transmittance, the agency said .
As of Monday, dozens of countries across Europe, the Middle East and the US had announced a travel ban for the UK. Others, such as Greece and Spain, have imposed restrictions that allow passengers arriving from Britain to undergo coronovirus testing or quarantine.
In South America, Argentina, Chile and Colombia have suspended direct flights to and from Britain, and El Salvador has banned anyone from entering the country in Britain.
Hong Kong became the first in Asia to ban British travelers on Monday, halting all passenger flights from the UK from Tuesday and banning all passengers who arrived in the city for more than two hours in the last 14 days Stayed
In the Middle East, flights from Britain were halted in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.
And across Europe, countries have closed their borders for UK travelers including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, Republic of Ireland, Estonia and the Czech Republic.
The 48-hour ban on all travel from the UK imposed by France from Sunday midnight is particularly disruptive, as it includes cargo trucks traveling through the Eurotunline under the English Channel. The Port of Dover on England’s southern coast announced Sunday night that its ferry terminal was “closed with traffic leaving the UK until further notice due to border restrictions in France”.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman told CNN that an emergency meeting of UK government officials on Monday is expected to focus on international sanctions and “particularly the steady flow of freight out of Britain”. “There are meetings this evening and tomorrow morning to ensure that strong plans are going on,” the spokesperson said.
On Monday, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps expressed fears over food supply disruptions, saying Eurotunline from Dover to Kailas only accounts for about 20% of goods going in and out of the country.
“This is not the mainstay, most of the goods come in uncontrolled containers and will continue to exit,” he said.
CNN’s Amy Woodayt, Taylor Barnes and Tara John contributed reporting.