A new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 strain detected in South Africa has already made its way to the UK.
Yet another COVID-19 strain has been detected. The new variant known as 501Y.V2, which comes from South Africa, is believed to better bind to and enter cells than previous strains, making the virus more transmissible.
Second wave driven by new covid strains
Two cases of the South African variant of COVID-19 have already been detected in the UK. This new strain is worrying experts for many reasons—it is likely to be more transmissible, it may hit young people harder and it may be more resistant to the vaccines currently being rolled out. The new strain also appears to provoke more serious symptoms. However, not enough data has been collected to confirm this.
In an effort to contain the transmission of this new strain as much as possible, anyone who has travelled to South Africa in the past two weeks or who has been in contact with someone who has travelled there must quarantine immediately. South Africa has recorded 940,000 cases of Covid-19, with almost 25,000 deaths, according to official statistics.
At this moment in time, experts urge that the new strain coming from South Africa must be contained at all cost. According to gov.uk:
From 9am Thursday 24 December 2020, visitors arriving into England who have been in or transited through South Africa in the previous 10 days will not be permitted entry and direct flights will be banned.
At least five other countries have imposed travel bans from South Africa.
New restrictions put in place
In the past week, with the new coronavirus strains emerging, the UK has almost entirely shut down just days before Christmas. With new restrictions announced by Matt Hancock, millions will celebrate Christmas and New Years in Tier 4. Almost half of England will move into Tier 4 on Boxing Day, 26 December. The health secretary warn that the UK's new coronavirus variant is spreading at a 'dangerous rate' and must be slowed down immediately. The UK exceeded its record of daily cases once again on Wednesday 23 December with 39,237 reported cases and an additional 744 deaths, according to Public Health England. The UK records the highest number of daily deaths since end of April.
If you live in Tier 4, you must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse.’ Reasonable excuses include:
- Work and volunteering
- Essential activities (shopping for food or medicine)
- Fulfilling legal obligations
- Education and childcare
- Meeting others and care (meeting people in your support bubble)
- Exercise and recreation (outdoors)
- Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits
- Communal worship and life events
- Meeting others safely (outdoors)