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New COVID-19 strain spreading in south

Posted on December 2020 By Jamie Southwell

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On Monday night the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that a new strain of the COVID-19 virus has been found to be spreading throughout the southern parts of England at an alarming rate.

The new variant was spotted after Public Health England’s (PHE) noticed a drastic rise in the number of cases climbing in Kent and London, with a total of 1,108 being identified in nearly 60 different local authorities so far. Matt Hancock said an analysis declared the reasoning behind “the numbers rapidly growing” being due to the new strain’s ability to spread faster than its predecessor.

Cases in the United Kingdom dropped to 12,330 on the 30th of November following from a national lockdown, but swiftly rose all the way up to 20,964 on the 10th of December after the lockdown ended on the 2nd of December. In London specifically cases rose from 1,616 on the 30th to 4,935 on the 10th. Making up 23.5% of the total cases in the country.

The Health Secretary went on to reassure us there is “nothing to suggest” the new strain could cause worse disease or the vaccination would not be able to work on it. As the mutation revolves around the spike protein of the virus and the current vaccines are targeted towards preventing those spikes from infecting the cells, it is likely that continuing vaccines should slow the spread.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Test and Trace and PHE Joint Medical Advisor, informed us on how the PHE was handling the situation by saying “We are investigating a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, predominantly in Kent and the surrounding areas. It is not unexpected that the virus should evolve and it’s important that we spot any changes quickly to understand the potential risk any variant may pose.”

She also countered the suggestion of the new strain being more deadly, “There is currently no evidence that this strain causes more severe illness, although it is being detected in a wide geography especially where there are increased cases being detected.”

Before finishing the press conference, London was placed into a tier 3 lockdown in attempt to see similar results to those who were placed into tier 3 earlier in the year up north.

To read our latest post on the governments coronavirus updates click here