The World Health Organization is aware of a new variant of COVID-19 That has surfaced in the UK, but there is no evidence that the strain behaves differently than existing types of viruses, it said on Monday.
“We are aware of this genetic variant, which has been reported in 1,000 people in England,” said WHO top emergency expert Mike Ryan at a press conference in Geneva. “The authorities are investigating its relevance. We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time.”
London is said to be at the highest level of Coronavirus The health minister announced on Monday that restrictions were due to concerns about the rising number of infections. The UK capital’s move to “Tier 3” from 0001 GMT on Wednesday means theaters, pubs, restaurants and other eateries will have to close, with the exception of take-away.
People are not supposed to come into contact with anyone outside their household, but they can meet in groups of up to six in public outdoor spaces. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said London had seen a “sharp rise” in daily cases and hospital admissions and there were public health concerns about the new burden on the population Coronavirus.
“This measure is absolutely necessary, not only to keep people safe, but because we have seen that early action can prevent more damage and longer term problems later,” he told Parliament.
In some areas, cases double every seven days, he said, warning, “It will only take a couple of doublings before the NHS (National Health Service) is overwhelmed.”
Scientists have identified a “new variant” of the virus in the south of England that can cause infections to spread faster, Hancock added.
But he said, “There is currently no evidence that serious cases are more likely to occur, and the latest clinical recommendations are that a vaccine is highly unlikely to fail.”
Currently, London is in “Tier 2” which means non-essential stores and services can be opened, but it currently has one of the highest infection rates in the country.
Tier 3 or “very high alert” means that bars, pubs and cafes can only offer take-away food and drinks, while shops, hairdressers and schools can remain open.
However, several London boroughs are sending children home as a precaution starting Tuesday after the government said last week it was concerned about the rising number of cases among secondary school-aged children.
Testing of 11-18 year old students began Monday in the hardest hit areas. The move to stricter measures is a new blow for businesses facing repeated restrictions this year and in the run-up to Christmas, usually its busiest time.
Parts of the counties of Essex, Kent and Hertfordshire that border London are also rated Tier 3. London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the surge in cases as “deeply worrying” but warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the move would be “catastrophic” in pubs, bars and art venues.
On Friday, the “R number” in London, which indicates how many other people will be infected with the virus, ranged from 0.9 to 1.1, according to the government website. More than 201,000 cases have been recorded in the capital and more than 7,000 people have died in hospital.