New variant of Covid identified in England and Scotland

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New variant of Covid identified in England and Scotland



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Microscope. Photo by Herney Gómez from Pixabay

The first cases of a new variant of Covid-19 have been detected in the UK.

The new strain hails from India and has been named Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by health officials.

The Indian government describes the strain as a “double mutant”, suggesting that it had formed as a hybrid of two other strains.

Researchers fear the new variant will be more contagious and harder for the immune system to target.

So far 77 people have tested positive for the new strain, 74 in England and three in Scotland.

Last week, Health Minister Vaughan Gething confirmed that Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines had been added to the “red list” of countries from which travelers are prohibited from entering the country. Wales without going through a quarantine period.

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Direct flights to Wales are prohibited from Red List countries and travelers are not permitted to enter Wales unless they are processed through a designated port in England or Scotland and remain there in managed quarantine for 10 days prior to travel to Wales.

India has reported more than 150,000 cases of Covid per day over the past three weeks, but international travel has yet to be curtailed.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to visit India later this month with the aim of securing a major trade deal.

The Kent variant remains the dominant strain in Wales, but 26 cases of the South African mutation have been identified, along with six cases of a Nigerian-linked variant and one case of the Brazilian strain.

A large cluster of the South African variant was identified in south London last week and health officials have warned that the easing of lockdown rules could be reversed if new variants continue to spread.

So far, 524 people have tested positive for the South African variant in England. Research suggests that the South African strain is no more deadly than the original strain, but it is known to spread faster and currently available vaccines are less effective at preventing infections.

Meanwhile, today’s figures from Public Health Wales confirm three more deaths from the coronavirus and 94 new cases of the virus.

The newly reported deaths took place in the areas of Aneurin Bevan, Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Powys health boards.

Cardiff has recorded 25 new cases, the highest in the country, but Swansea continues to report the highest weekly case rate at 30.4 per 100,000 people. It also has the highest percentage of positive tests at 3.2% per 100,000 tests.

The national case rate has fallen from 16.7 to 17.9 since Friday’s report and the testing rate is down from 1.9% to 1.8%.

Due to changes to the way PHW reports pandemic statistics, today’s update includes data reported for the 24-hour period through 9 a.m. on Friday.

Data reported on Monday from now on will be for a 48 hour period until 9 a.m. on Sunday.

“The numbers reported on Monday are likely to be about double the usual 24-hour figure,” said Dr Robin Howe, incident director for the response to the Covid-19 outbreak at Public Health Wales.

“We are doing this because the number of cases is now low, so any daily fluctuation can give rise to a potentially misleading interpretation and we want to focus more on the underlying trends.

“Our monitoring team will however retain the ability to go back up to seven days if necessary.

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