A new, potentially more infectious variant of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been found in the UK in cases related to South Africa, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday.
The South African health department announced last week that a new genetic mutation in the virus had been discovered and may be responsible for a recent surge in infections.
“Thanks to the impressive genomic abilities of South Africans, we have discovered two cases of yet another new variant of the coronavirus here in the UK,” Hancock said at a press conference.
“Both are contacts from cases that have traveled from South Africa in the past few weeks.”
The UK is already trying to curb the spread of a mutated strain of the virus that is up to 70% more transmissible, and more studies are being carried out on the new variant.
“This new variant is very worrying as it is even more transmissible and appears to have mutated further when the new variant was discovered in the UK,” he said.
Close contacts of people with the new variant and people who have been to South Africa in the past fourteen days or have been in close contact with someone who has done so must be quarantined, he said.
Travel from South Africa was immediately restricted, he added.
Countries around the world have closed their borders with the UK and South Africa in the past few days after the new, rapidly spreading variants of the coronavirus were identified.
“The new variant in the UK that we identified is very different from the variant in South Africa. It has different mutations,” said Susan Hopkins of Public Health England.
“Both seem to be more transferable. We have more evidence of transference for the British variant because we have studied that in great detail with academic partners. We are still learning about the South African variant.”
Confident that the spread of the South African-related variant would be controlled, she said that vaccines already developed should be effective.
“We don’t have any evidence at the moment that the vaccine won’t work. That, in fact, means that there is strong evidence that it will work because the vaccine has a strong immune response and is broad and against many variations Virus, “she said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)