What are the symptoms of the new strain of Covid? Are they different?
Chris Whitty says new COVID-19 strain can spread ‘more quickly’
Christmas plans have been ruined for millions up and down the UK as new restrictions come into place across much of the UK, in particular for those in London and the southeast of England. Boris Johnson announced a slew of new restrictions, including an additional Tier 4, as well as the tightening of Christmas restrictions.
The Covid strain was first identified in Kent last week during routine surveillance by Public Health England.
Now, over 60 local authorities in England have reported cases of the variant of coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs last week that the number of cases involving the new variant is “increasing rapidly”.
Government scientists are investigating the new variant at the Porton Down facility.
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The new variant is spreading the most rapidly across the southeast of England, with London, Kent and other parts of the southeast put into a new Tier 4 lockdown beginning on December 20.
Britain has been one of the worst-hit European countries – with more than 67,000 deaths linked to coronavirus and more than 2 million cases reported.
Hundreds of deaths are being reported every day across the UK, with the largest outbreaks currently in the south.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have lower infection rates than England, which has been the worst-hit country in Europe so far.
Is the new strain more dangerous?
No. The new strain is not thought to cause any worse or different symptoms of coronavirus compared to the virus as we have known it for the past 10 months.
The symptoms have not changed – a continuous cough, chest pains and a loss of taste and smell are primary symptoms of coronavirus.
There have been many mutations in the virus since it emerged in 2019.
This is to be expected in viruses and is common – SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus and these viruses mutate and change.
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Public Health England has said that, as of December 13, 1,108 cases with this new variant had been identified, predominantly in the south and east of England.
It has been named VUI-202012/01.
However, Boris Johnson said the new strain is estimated to be 70 percent more infectious than previous incarnations of the virus.
Mr Johnson said: “There’s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness.”
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer said that there was no evidence that the new variant “causes more trouble” and would make people sicker.
He added there were “theoretical reasons” to suggest that it may alter an immune response though there was no evidence for this.
“Our working assumption from all the scientists is that the vaccine response should be adequate for this virus,” he told the Downing Street press conference.
“We need to keep vigilant about this.”
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