New Coronavirus Strain Emerges. Some Countries Ban Travel To and From UK
A growing number of European countries have stopped travel from Britain after a new virus strain was discovered in that country. At least six European countries have announced flights will no longer fly there, while France and Belgium have banned train travel.
Why it matters
Health officials in the U.S and the UK said the strain apparently infects more easily than others. But they are still examining if it is more deadly. It is believed to be 70% more transmissible.
What’s driving the news
The British government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said the strain “moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant,” causing over 60% of infections in London by December, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The new strain is said to have nearly two dozen mutations and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. That spike is what current vaccines target.
“I’m worried about this, for sure,” but it’s too soon to know how important it ultimately will prove to be, said Dr. Ravi Gupta, who studies viruses at the University of Cambridge in England.
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control.”