The new strain of COVID-19, which is currently of concern to medical professionals around the world, and not just in the UK, where it was first discovered, was first discovered by scientists studying an increase in the number of cases in the country. Medical experts were alarmed as COVID-19 cases continued to rise in the south-east of England, despite restrictions imposed by the government.
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At first, health officials speculated that the increase may have been due to public neglect under health and safety protocols. However, they later felt that the new strain was responsible for the increase in infections. The new strain came to light in December, but the samples in which it was found were collected in September. This has led the UK government to announce a strict closure of Tier 4 in some parts of the UK, where the new strain is more commonly detected than in other parts of the country.
Stricter curbs imposed in the UK
Under the new restrictions, the closure of irrelevant services and retail facilities was ordered, restrictions on social gatherings were introduced, and people were advised to stay at home at all times, unless absolutely necessary. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, his Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and the Cabinet agreed that the new strain of COVID-19 had changed the current landscape, and locking was considered necessary to curb the spread of the virus and protect lives. It is currently unclear whether the new strain is also responsible for a higher mortality rate.
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Research is ongoing
After the UK government learned of the new strain on December 8, it notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of the new variant. It remains unclear how the new strain affects current vaccines and treatment against COVID-19. However, pharmaceutical companies claim that they expect their vaccines to work against all variants. Scientists have conducted extensive research on the new variant. In response, several countries have suspended air travel to and from the United Kingdom. So far, a new strain has been discovered in Australia, the Netherlands and South Africa.
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What did the WHO say about the new strain?
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) came out and said it was aware of a new variant of COVID-19, but noted that there was still no evidence that the pathogen behaved differently from existing types of viruses that have shaken the world since early 2020. Last week, the director WHO for emergencies dr. Mike Ryan told a news conference in Geneva that authorities were still looking at the significance of the strain’s discovery, adding: “We have seen many variants, this virus is evolving and changing overtime.”
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