Britain declared the mutated virus out of control

On December 19 local time, the British government announced that the level of prevention and control of the epidemic in the capital London and parts of southeast and east England has been raised from level 3 to level 4, and the relevant areas will be “closed down” again in the next two weeks.

On the same day, the UK Secretary of State for Health, Ms. Hancock, referring to the current COVID-19 epidemic in the UK, said that the novel Coronavirus new strain discovered in the country had got out of control and the UK government must bring it under control and take action.

With the novel Coronavirus announced in The UK, alarm has been sounded in many countries and regions around the world. Four key questions will help people further understand the impact of the virus mutation.

A man wearing a mask walks past the London Eye in London, England, on Dec. 21.
Photo by Xinhua News Agency

When did it appear?

The WHO says the variant of the virus spread in Britain in September.

At a regular BRIEFING on COVID-19 on December 21, MARIA van Kokhoff, technical director of WHO’s Health Emergency programme, said British researchers were alerted to the increased spread of the virus in south-east England between late November and early December, when local interventions were already in place.

By studying the characteristics of the cases and the genetic sequence of the virus, the researchers identified the variant, known as B117, and conducted a retrospective analysis of the cases in southeast England, finding that the variant was present in some cases as early as September.

According to Reuters, WHO says a novel coronavirus variant that emerged in the UK is highly contagious and need not cause a major panic, calling it a normal phenomenon in the evolution of a pandemic.

According to WHO officials, novel Coronavirus has so far mutated at a much slower rate than flu, and even the new virus from the UK is nowhere near as transmissible as other diseases such as mumps.
They said that a vaccine developed against a novel Coronavirus should also work against the new variant, although a review is currently under way to make sure this is the case.

British experts said it would take years for the virus to accumulate enough mutations to render the vaccine ineffective, the New York Times reported.

How infectious?

The WORLD Health Organization says infectious diseases are estimated to increase by 40 to 70 percent.

On 22 December local time, WHO released information ona mutation coronavirus reported in the UK.
On 14 December, the United Kingdom reported to WHO that a new novel Coronavirus variant had been discovered through viral gene sequencing.
Preliminary analysis showed that the variant was more likely to spread from person to person, with an estimated 40 to 70 percent increase in infectivity and 0.4 in the transmission index between 1.5 and 1.7.
As of December 13, 1,108 cases of the mutated virus had been detected in the UK.

Who recommends that further epidemiological and virological research be undertaken to understand changes in the infectivity and pathogenicity of the mutated virus.
Who recommends that all countries, wherever possible, add routine sequencing of novel Coronavirus and share virus genetic sequence data, in particular to report whether the same mutated virus has been found.
All countries need to assess local levels of virus transmission and take appropriate prevention and control measures.

Passengers prepare to board the last train of the day to Paris at St. Pancras station in London, England, on Dec. 20.
Photo by Xinhua News Agency

How did the British people react?

Nearly 300,000 people fled London overnight after the restrictions were announced.

On December 20, local time, the British capital London and some surrounding areas began to upgrade the epidemic prevention measures, become a four-level lockdown zone, the news on the afternoon of the 19th suddenly announced, nearly 300,000 residents by rail, road and other ways “fled” London.

British media pointed out that many railway stations in London were like “battlefields” in the night, with large numbers of passengers fleeing the capital by train just before midnight.
At London’s St. Pankhurst station, passengers also lined up for Paris, a rare sight throughout this year’s outbreak.

In an interview with Sky News, Hancock said: “This is irresponsible.
It is the responsibility of our government and of every individual to do a good job in epidemic prevention.
I ask everyone to do their part, and only when everyone acts can we get this outbreak under control.”

How should countries respond?

The United States is considering a response to the disruption of British shipping by more than 40 countries.

According to the BBC of 22 December, more than 40 countries have issued a series of travel bans for the UK due to concerns over the proliferation of the novel Coronavirus variant with enhanced viral power.

France has announced an emergency 48-hour border closure after an overnight city lockdown in Britain. Lorries and ferries are not allowed to leave the British port of Dover.
There are around 10,000 lorries a day between The French port of Calais and the British port of Dover during the Christmas rush.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron and that both wanted to “resolve these issues as quickly as possible.”

The US government is considering measures against the MUTated virus in the UK and will require all passengers departing from the UK to provide a negative test within 72 hours as a requirement for entry to the US, US airlines and officials familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Meanwhile, the former head of the US Food and Drug Administration said in an interview that the mutated virus “has emerged in the US”.
The day before, the US assistant secretary of health and Human Services had boasted that there was no need to “restrict FLIGHTS from the UK” because of the effectiveness of the US vaccine.

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