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UK suspends flights to six African nations as new COVID variant emerges with over 30 mutations

London: UK Well being Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday introduced a short lived suspension of flights from six nations after reviews emerged {that a} new COVID variant with greater than 30 mutations is spreading in South Africa. The brand new Variant B.1.1.529 is asserted a Variant below Investigation (VuI) by the UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA).

“The variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations that may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. More investigation is required,” UK Well being Safety Company mentioned in an announcement.

Taking to Twitter, Javid mentioned UKHSA is “investigating a new variant and more data is needed but we`re taking precautions now.” “From noon tomorrow six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travellers must quarantine,” he mentioned.

“We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” he added.

This announcement comes after media reviews mentioned {that a} new COVID-19 variant of “serious concern” has been detected in South Africa.

The World Well being Group (WHO) is convening an emergency assembly immediately to debate the doubtless quickly spreading COVID pressure present in South Africa and Botswana, the Monetary Instances reported, citing sources.

Earlier, UK media reviews mentioned that scientists from the UK had warned of the looks of a coronavirus pressure, which accommodates 32 mutations, in Botswana.

Lots of the mutations point out its excessive transmissibility and resistance to vaccines, the pressure has extra modifications within the spike protein than all different COVID-19 variants, the Russian information company reported. 

The South African Nationwide Institute of Infectious Illnesses later additionally confirmed that the brand new pressure had been present in South Africa. 

Hong Kong detects new COVID-19 variant 

Hong Kong has detected a newly recognized COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, inflicting a spike in new Covid-19 infections in South Africa, based on native media reviews. This information, with a lot of spike protein mutations, has led the UK to impose a journey ban from some African nations. 

It has additionally been declared a Variant below Investigation (VuI) by the UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA). “These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. More investigation is required,” UK Well being Safety Company mentioned in an announcement.

The World Well being Group (WHO) has known as for a particular assembly to debate the brand new Covid variant.”We don`t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves,” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO`s the technical lead on Covid-19, mentioned in a briefing.

Reportedly, the brand new variant was discovered earlier in two males quarantined on the Regal Airport Lodge in Chek Lap Kok. The Hong Kong well being authorities confirmed that the brand new variant was introduced in by one of many males who had flown in from South Africa.

The primary affected person then allegedly handed on the virus to a different man who was staying in a neighbouring room on the lodge, The Straits Instances reported citing Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK.

The probe into the 2 instances confirmed that that they had extremely comparable genetic sequences, including that the viruses they carried belong to the B.1.1.529 variant, based on Hong Kong`s Centre for Well being Safety (CHP).

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