The Italian Ministry of Health also reported that the country recorded a “British” version of SARS-CoV-2.
On December 14, the head of the British Ministry of health, Matt Hancock, announced a new coronavirus version. According to him, this strain is spreading faster than other variants of the coronavirus. As noted by the UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government’s senior medical adviser Patrick Vallance, according to preliminary estimates, the new type of coronavirus maybe 70% more contagious than usual. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that this variant of SARS-COV-2 is more dangerous in terms of mortality or hospitalization or that it reacts differently to vaccines.
As noted in the article, tests conducted in the Netherlands earlier this month revealed a new mutation of the residents’ virus. After that, the government imposed a ban on passenger flights from the UK until January 1. This step was also taken by Belgium, Italy, and Germany, closing air traffic until January 6. Austria has already announced the suspension of communication, and now the decision is being worked out by the authorities, France and Sweden can follow their example.
The Dutch cabinet said it would work with other European Union member states to “explore the possibility of further reducing the risk of importing a new strain of the virus from the UK.””
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerckhove noted that experts “have been tracking mutations around the world since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Due to the rapid growth of infections with a new version of the coronavirus, the highest level of restrictions was introduced in London and England’s south-east. Non-food stores, gyms, and hairdressers will be closed again there. Residents are advised to spend maximum time at home. In other parts of England, where the spread of coronavirus is lower, it will be possible to celebrate Christmas as part of two families.
The total number of people infected with coronavirus in Britain exceeded two million, and the number of victims was almost 68 thousand.