However, just an increase in transmission — if true — would be enough to cause major problems for hospitals already strained during the pandemic.
There’s always a worry that a vaccine won’t work if a virus mutates significantly, but Whitty said the vaccines should still work.
The news has sparked travel chaos in the UK, as many countries halted arrivals from the country in effort to contain the new variant from spreading further. A 48-hour ban on all travel from the UK imposed by France from midnight has been particularly disruptive, as it includes freight trucks traveling through the Eurotunnel under the English Channel. Johnson is due to chair an emergency meeting about the restrictions today.
Meanwhile, the fast spread of the new variant of the virus has forced the UK government to impose tighter restrictions on London and southeast England over the festive period.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: Where has this new variant of the coronavirus been detected?
A: The new variant of Covid-19 originates in southeast England, according to the WHO, but it has already been detected in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia. Australian health authorities said two cases of the variant had been found in returning travellers from the UK while they were in state-imposed quarantine in Sydney, while Italy’s health ministry reported Sunday that a patient had been infected with the variant and placed under isolation in Rome.
All viruses mutate over time and new variants are a common emergence, including for the novel coronavirus. A similar variant to the one identified in the UK has also been identified in South Africa, where scientists say it is spreading quickly along coastal areas of the country.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Congressional leaders reach Covid relief deal
First Moderna shots likely to happen today
These three Nordic nations kept the virus under control — without lockdowns
Keeping the virus in check requires a complicated mix of measures and every country is different. But the approaches of three nations — Finland, Norway and Denmark — in recent months stand out.
ON OUR RADAR
- Thailand had kept its coronavirus cases under control. Now it’s testing thousands as it battles a shrimp market outbreak.
- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was slapped with a $3,500 fine after posing for a selfie on the beach without wearing a mask as required.
- Paul McCartney has officially released an album that he recorded during his time in quarantine.
- An Arkansas woman was only expected to live a few hours after being taken off a ventilator. Instead, the Covid-19 patient smiled and tried to wave.
- China aims to vaccinate 50 million people ahead of Lunar New Year.
- Lockdowns have stopped people moving. And fugitives are running out of hiding places.
- Dr. Fauci says he personally traveled to the North Pole to vaccinate Santa Claus. “He is good to go,” Fauci told children during the fifth CNN and Sesame Street’s coronavirus townhall.
Throw the Christmas menu out the window and have a snackapalooza
In a year that’s been upside down and inside out, why stick with the same old dishes for Christmas dinner?
“Most of us are obviously prime candidates for being sick. We’re old, we’re obese. We have underlying medical conditions of heart and the diabetes.” — “Santa” Stephen Arnold
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