Britain’s top medical officer announced that the UK has identified a new variant of the coronavirus that “can spread more quickly” than prior strains of the virus. Along with the UK, the same mutation of the COVID-19 virus has also been detected in the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and the Czech Republic.
About the New Variant
It is crucial to know that viruses mutate all the time, it’s just what they do. And this is not the first time that something similar happened. The virus that was first detected in Wuhan, China, is not the same strain of virus you will find in most corners of the world. The D614G mutation emerged in Europe in February and became the globally dominant form of the virus. Another, called A222V, spread across Europe and was linked to people’s summer holidays in Spain.
Although there is a “considerable uncertainty”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old one. And it is rapidly replacing other versions of the virus. It was first detected in September. In November around a quarter of cases in London were the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December.
The good news is, so far, there’s no evidence to suggest that the new strain causes a higher death rate or that it is affected any differently by vaccines and treatments.
The new variant of coronavirus is spreading faster.
Response to the New Variant: 10-day Quarantine for Travellers from the UK
On Sunday, December 20, European nations including Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium all announced a halt to flights and travel from the UK. The Dutch government made the decision after finding a case in the Netherlands of the new coronavirus strain.
Later the same day, the Czech Republic has introduced stricter quarantine measures for people arriving from the UK. Now a mandatory 10-day quarantine is required for all incoming travellers from the UK, the Czech Health Ministry has announced and it is in effect immediately. The mandatory quarantine applies to all travellers who have spent at least 24 hours in the UK over the past 14 days. However, the quarantine can be shortened if the travellers can be tested negative in a PCR COVID-19 test after 5 days of the 10-day quarantine.
Earlier this morning, the Health Ministry announced on Twitter, “As of 12:00, no aircraft from Britain may land in the Czech Republic. The flights from this destination are stopped.” However, flights to Britain are not banned.