The UK is investigating a new Covid variant, 6 African countries on the red list with travel bans

LONDON: It UKThe health authorities have confirmed that a new and “most significant” variant of covid-19 is officially being investigated in the country as the government on Friday added six countries to its trip prohibit red list from south Africa, where B.1.1.529 strain was first identified.
The latest variant is the most mutated version discovered so far. The tribe was first identified in South Africa earlier this week and has already spread to neighboring countries, including Botswana, where it has reportedly been detected in fully vaccinated persons.
The UK has applied travel restrictions to arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia as of Friday, as the government reiterated that no cases of the new mutation have been detected in the UK so far.
According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the variant includes a large number of nail protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome that could potentially be more transmissible and avoidant of the vaccine’s immunity.
“This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmittance, severity and vaccine susceptibility,” said Dr. Jenny Harrys, CEO of UKHSA.
“The results of these studies will determine what public health measures can limit the impact of B.1.1.529. This is a clear reminder to everyone that this pandemic is not over, and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to limit transmission and reduce the frequency of infection and prevent the emergence of new variants, she says.
The UKHSA stated that B.1.1.529 has potentially biologically significant mutations that may alter the virus’ behavior with respect to vaccines, treatments and transmissions, and therefore further investigation is required.
“As part of our close monitoring of variants worldwide, we have become aware of the proliferation of a new potentially urgent variant, which the UKHSA has identified as a variant under investigation,” said the UK Health Minister. Sajid Javid.
“We are taking precautionary measures to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine deployment at a critical moment as we enter the winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” he said, adding that some experts fear it could turn out to be more. highly transferable than the Delta variant – currently the dominant one COVID variant in the UK.
The new variant is believed to have as many as 50 nail mutations. Nail proteins are what viruses use to enter human cells, and some vaccines work by training the body to recognize the nails and neutralize them. Mutations on the nail in a virus can therefore prove to be problematic in limiting the spread.
From noon on Friday, non-British and Irish residents who have been in the six African countries for the past 10 days will be denied entry to England. A temporary ban on commercial and private aircraft traveling from the six countries will also come into force at lunchtime on Friday to Sunday to reduce the risk of importing the new variant under investigation while the hotel quarantine is up.
“We are taking these early precautions now to protect the progress made across the country, and will continue to keep an eye on the situation as we continue into the winter,” said the UK Transport Secretary. Grant Shapps.
The European Union (EU) has also followed suit with similar measures and European countries have also introduced their action plans against the new variant.
“The European Commission will propose, in close coordination with the Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop flights from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, tweeted last Friday.
The first genomes of the new variant were uploaded to GISAID, a global scientific database, on 22 November. Genome has now been uploaded from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong – with a total of 59 cases reported – but the spread has not yet been determined.
Meanwhile, Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant in a vaccinated traveler who returned from Malawi, the Associated Press reported.
The traveler and two other suspected cases have been placed in solitary confinement.
In South Africa, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said “there has been more of an exponential increase” in cases over the past four or five days. Until recently, the country had reported around 200 confirmed cases per day – but this has increased rapidly over the past week, reaching 2,465 cases on Thursday.
Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet on Friday to assess the variant, which has been classified as a variant under surveillance earlier this week. If it is upgraded to a variant of concern, it may be named after the Greek alphabet, after the Alpha and Delta tribes.


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