The UK has discovered a new type of Covid-19 virus that the chief medical officer in England says is more contagious than previous variants.
Professor Chris Whitty says “urgent work” is underway to rule out whether the new strain prevailing in southeast England could cause a higher death rate.
“There is no current evidence to suggest that the new strain causes a high mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” he said in a statement.
Here’s what we know, too.
What we know about the variable:
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant could be up to 70% more portable than the old variant, although there is still “a great deal of uncertainty”.
Where it was discovered:
- The World Health Organization says the new variant has also been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.
- Australia said on Monday that it had detected two cases of the new type at Australian quarantine facilities.
What other countries are doing in response:
- More than a dozen countries are banning travel from the UK in response to the new alternative.
- These countries include the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
- Other countries impose restrictions – the Czech Republic has imposed a mandatory 10-day quarantine on anyone arriving from the UK.
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