Pc: the Indian Express
Recently, India along with several other countries like Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, and Belgium have terminated all the flights heading to the United Kingdom. Why has this decision been taken across so many nations suddenly?
At a sensitive time when the world is in the midst of the battle with covid-19, UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced recently that the country has identified a new strain of the covid-19 virus. He marked this new strain as ‘out of control’. The strain was first found in September but by mid-December, the number had risen to 66.66%. Sensing the urgency to contain the outbreak of the new strain, the Indian government decided to cancel all flights to the UK.
There have been various emerging concerns regarding this new strain of covid-19. The medical officials of the UK disclosed all the information they had in their hands right now. So, let’s figure out the answers to some significant questions regarding the new variant.
What exactly is this new strain?
In simpler terms, it’s like a new breed of the covid-19 virus. The UK scientists have named it VUI – 202012/01. It was first found in September and the cases quickly rose to 1100. By December the UK had witnessed 24,061 new Covid-19 cases with mutated strain per day, based on a weekly average. It has become a common mutant in the UK by now.
How did this new strain of covid-19 come into existence?
As scientists explained, viruses have a natural tendency to mutate. This is not said to be the first such mutation. It has been across the world since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Since the beginning of this, we’ve seen mutations occur all over the world, many thousands of them, but this one has more mutations than any variant we’ve seen before,” concerned for the new variant, the professor of the immunology department of Imperial College London told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe”.
How dangerous is the new variant?
One of the major concerns for this virus is its quicker transmission. It spreads 70% faster and easier than the previously spreading covid-19 virus. Though its method of transmission is the same as that of the previous strain, that is through touch, sneeze, and cough. It also pertains to the same symptoms as covid-19 like dry cough and fever.
“What needs to be answered is whether the new strain transmits more easily, makes people sicker, and whether it changes the way someone’s immune system responds to the virus if they were already infected or vaccinated,” chief medical officer of England, professor Chris Whitty, said.
He also added that there has been no evidence yet that suggests a higher death rate can be caused by this variant. Its ability to spread faster can lead it to become a dominant variant in no time.
Where else it had been reported besides Britain?
Spain already reported another new variant according to public health England. The reason being a vast population that spent holidays in Spain. The UK identified strain has been reported in Italy, and France reported the likelihood of the virus too. Australia has also declared the presence of a new Covid-19 strain in two passengers who returned from the UK.
How the world is responding to the issue?
Boris Johnson in his recent announcement said that the country’s medical experts are going to continue to work on the further understanding of this new variant as fast as possible. They are in a situation of continuous learning along with enough information about its spread.
He has refrained his residents from traveling by putting the country under lockdown once again.
Though India has not found this new Covid-19 Strain, to prevent any spread, the government of India has decided to temporarily ban flights coming from and going to the UK from 23 December to the 31st December. The aviation minister of India Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that passengers arriving in India before 11:59 pm on 22 December are subject to mandatory RT-PCR tests and 7 days quarantine. Those with Positive results will be sent to institutional quarantine set up by the state/UT government. The cargo and other flights will be spared from this suspension.
France has decided to suspend all the flights coming from Britain for 48 hours from midnight of 20th December. The country also halted goods transportation by roads, sea, air, and rails. The country has also banned the transportation of food and drinks as it raises major concerns about the spread of the virus.
Similarly, the flights from Britain will be banned from midnight until 31st December. The government of Germany is also considering extending the suspension until January.
Germany has discovered a new mutant of covid-19 different from those originating in UK and Brazil. The health officials of Germany said that the variant was found in patients of the Bavarian hospital. The transmission rate is not yet known. Another lockdown has extended until February 14 in the country. The schools and shops remain closed.
The government of Italy has also decided to suspend traveling to and from England along with the prohibition of the entry of any individual that has stayed in Britain for the last 14 days. Similarly, countries like Ireland, the Netherlands, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Chile have suspended any means of traveling to and from the United Kingdom for at least 42 hours amid the fear of this new covid1- variant spread.
What is the response of the vaccine to the new breed of virus?
Scientists have deliberated that the vaccines are developed in such a way that can stimulate the antibodies targeting the entire spike protein. While the mutations cause the change on a single point. Therefore, covid-19 vaccines are effective on this new strain of covid-19. Further in-depth research regarding the same is still in progress.
How will the decisions across the world affect air traffic?
It has been claimed by the various travel agents that the ban on UK flights will have a negligible impact on international traffic of any country. But the United Kingdom will likely be affected in this period of sudden goods transportation and touring suspension. Also, it will create a scarcity of medical officials and hospital beds in the pandemic.
The verdict from the Joint Medical Advisor for NHS test and Trace and public health England, Susan Hopkins: “There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a wide geography, especially where there are increased cases being detected.”
The emergence of a new faster covid-19 strain has raised major concerns for public health across the world. This spread in the UK can become a hindrance in the attempts to end the covid-19 pandemic. The times are hard making it a necessity to take all the advised precautions. Don’t forget, ” Life is the biggest earning of all.”