A new variant of the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Britain and prompting high levels of concern around the world. Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Monday due to fears about a new strain of coronavirus, said to be up to 70% more transmissible than COVID 19. Even though India has not yet detected the new strain of coronavirus, it has closed its doors for the UK travelers.
Here's what we know so far about the new Covid-19 strain:
GLOBAL MARKET DIP OVER VIRUS CONCERN
Asian shares widened losses on Tuesday, extending a pullback from multi-year highs hit last week on fears a highly infectious new strain of COVID-19 that hit Britain could lead to a slower global economic recovery. Oil prices dropped on expectations of lower demand, with U.S. crude recently down 0.34% at $47.63 per barrel, while Brent was 0.55% lower at $50.63.
Indian shares reversed from early gains to trade lower on Tuesday, extending a sell-off from the previous session, as worries deepened over a fast-spreading new strain of the coronavirus detected in Britain.
The NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.85% at 13,243.30 by 0411 GMT, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.54% to 45,317.91.
Both the indexes rose as much as 0.8% in early trade.
PLACES WHERE CASES OF THE NEW STRAIN WERE REPORTED
Strains of the COVID-19-causing virus have emerged in recent months in South Africa, Spain, Denmark and other countries that have also raised concern.
However, none so far, has been found to contain mutations that make it more deadly, or more likely to be able to evade vaccines or treatments.
DID THIS NEW VARIANT ORIGINATE IN BRITAIN?
Some scientists in Europe have credited British expertise in genomic surveillance for identifying the mutation.
“The UK has one of the most comprehensive genetic surveillance programmes in the world - 5% to 10% all virus samples are genetically tested. Few countries do better,” Steven Van Gucht, head of viral diseases at the Belgian Institute of Health, told a news conference on Monday.
WHY DO MUTATIONS OCCUR?
Viruses often mutate, or develop small changes, as they reproduce and move through a population — something “that’s natural and expected," WHO said in a statement. A more concerning situation is when a virus mutates by changing the proteins on its surface to help it escape from drugs or the immune system, or if it acquires a lot of changes that make it very different from previous versions.
The Ministry of Aviation temporarily banned all the flights from UK. The Centre has also advised the State Governments to take up all necessary precautions at the entry points of their respective states in order to avoid the spread of the Virus, if any.
Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, though flights from UK have been suspended, those who came to India on other flights and travelling to the State by road are also being monitored. For this, surveillance has been enhanced, especially at Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border. The State health department have tracked down the passengers and their contacts, who flew in from London to Chennai, Trichy, Madurai and Coimbatore in the last 10 days. All the passengers will be mandated to undergo COVID-19 test even if they are with nil symptoms, said sources.
(with inputs from Reuters)