New COVID Strain Should you be Worried?

A new COVID-19 strain has been diagnosed in the UK. Several countries including India have suspended all the flights from UK with effect from December 21, 2020. While there were talks about the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine and health insurance covering COVID-19 treatment, and things seemed to be settling, the new virus strain raises a new cause of concern globally. The concern is how contagious is the new virus strain and what has led to its mutation? Will it impact the launch of the vaccination?

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      What are the Concerns Over the New COVID Strain that Lead to Travel Restrictions?

      The new COVID variant was reported in Britain and is the main reason behind a rapid surge in Coronavirus cases in East and South England. The new strain is referred to as B.1.1.7 lineage or VUI (Variant under Investigation) 202012/01.

      UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement that over the last few days they have identified a new variant of the coronavirus that has been associated with the faster spread of the diseases in the South of England. UK authorities have also notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the variant.

      How Does the New SARS-CoV-2 Variant Act?

      Coronavirus cases surged by 50% in London over the past week. Almost 60% of the new infections were attributed to the new COVID strain:

      • The new strain of the virus tends to mutate or evolve quickly.
      • It is up to 70% more contagious but it is still not more deadly and COVID vaccines should be effective on it.
      • As per the scientific evidence, the new variant spreads significantly faster than the previous COVID strains in circulation.
      • Just like flu and influenza it might require the development of new vaccines every year because of mutation in key proteins.
      • Though SARS-CoV-2 changes at a slower pace as compared to the other viruses. Thanks to its self-correcting mechanism that keeps its genetic sequence somewhat stable.

      Countries that Have Blocked Travel from the UK So Far

      After the UK government warned of a new, fast-spreading COVID strain and stated it as out of control. Several nations have put fresh travel restrictions from the UK bound flights. Following countries have announced the ban so far:

      • Joining the list of countries barring flights from the UK, Canada is halting passenger flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours to limit the spread of the new COVID strain from the country.
      • Saudi Arabia also closed its borders for one week over fears of the emerging new virus strain.
      • Iran's health ministry has suspended flights from Great Britain for two weeks and prohibits the entry of people in Italy who have stayed there in the past 14 days.
      • Germany will block all the air links with the UK until December 31, 2020
      • Turkey temporarily halted flights from Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, and South Africa
      • France has halted all travel from Britain for 48 hours including passenger flights and goods transport by air, road, rail, or sea.
      • Kuwait has banned flights from Britain and has added Britain to the list of high-risk nations.
      • Israel has barred entry to foreign citizens travelling from Britain, South Africa, and Denmark
      • Croatia would temporarily suspend passenger air traffic from the UK for 48 hours.

      For now, the World Health Organization is in close contact with UK officials over the new and highly contagious COVID virus variant.

      So, Should you be Scared?

      Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement that no need to panic due to the New COVID strain as the Indian Government is highly alert.

      Our scientists are closely monitoring each development of the new COVID strain that surfaced in the United Kingdom. The health minister said the government had taken all the important measures to handle the Covid-19 situation so far.

      The minister assured that people don’t need to panic over something that is imaginary. The situation is not much to create a panic in India, especially when our scientists are closely monitoring the situation and keeping a tab on each development.

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