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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

COVID-19: New UK journey restrictions for six African international locations as B.1.1.529 variant known as ‘worst one we have seen thus far’ | UK Information

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The UK is bringing in journey restrictions for six African international locations attributable to a brand new COVID variant which consultants say is the “worst one we have seen thus far”.

Well being Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “UKHSA (UK Well being Safety Company) is investigating a brand new variant. Extra information is required however we’re taking precautions now.

“From midday tomorrow six African international locations shall be added to the crimson record, flights shall be quickly banned, and UK travellers should quarantine.”

Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe shall be suspended.

The UKHSA says B.1.1.529 has a spike protein which is “dramatically” completely different to the unique COVID pressure, and it has double the quantity of mutations of the Delta variant.

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These mutations are prone to evade the immune response generated by prior an infection and vaccination, they are saying.

Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial School London, branded the mutations “really awful” however mentioned {cases} have been at present “tremendous low”.

Spike proteins are what viruses use to get into human cells, and a few vaccines work by coaching the physique to recognise the spikes and neutralise them.

Mutations on the spike might due to this fact probably show problematic.

However with solely a handful of recorded {cases} – three in Botswana, round 53 in South Africa and one in Hong Kong from somebody who travelled from South Africa – scientists are hopeful it may be contained.

Francois Balloux, professor of computational methods biology at College School London, mentioned it needs to be intently monitored however “there is no such thing as a cause to get overly involved, except it begins going up in frequency within the close to future”.

World Well being Organisation’s consultants are assembly on Friday to evaluate the variant, which on Wednesday was classed a variant beneath monitoring (VUM).

If it is upgraded to a variant of concern (VOC) it might be given a reputation from the Greek alphabet.

Nonetheless, it is also classed as a much less severe variant of curiosity (VOI), indicating it has traits which will have an effect on elements akin to transmissibility and illness severity.

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