Scientists and researchers say the new strain has much higher transmissibility than compared to the earlier variant. Photograph:( Reuters )
The new variant is 70 per cent more transmissible. However, whether or not is deadlier than the previous one is not yet clear.
The Government of India has called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group of Health Ministery on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has led to a surge in the infection rate there.
Also read | New variant of coronavirus was 'out of control' in UK; lockdown can be extended: Health Secretary
A number of European countries have banned flights from the UK as the British government warned that the potent new strain of the virus was "out of control" and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.
Also read| European countries mull ban on flights from UK over new coronavirus variant
"The Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) chaired by the Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) will hold a meeting on Monday morning to discuss the issue of the mutated variant of the coronavirus reported from the UK. WHO's India representative Dr Roderico H Ofrin, who is also a member of the JMG, is likely to participate in the meeting," a source said.
Also read: A new coronavirus strain is spreading more quickly
A surge in the infection rate caused by the new variant of the coronavirus has led to millions entering a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown in the UK from Sunday, with non-essential shops and businesses now closed.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock was the first one to announce the identification of a new variant of coronavirus. Now, as his government has announced a Tier 4 lockdown in the country, Hancock has justified the move by revealing the extent of danger the new variant poses.
Talking about the new and stricter lockdown in south-eastern England during the Christmas time, Hancock said the decision was needed to control the worsening situation as the new variant was "out of control".
Patting his own back, Hancock defended the new 'stay at home' orders. "We acted very quickly and decisively," he said. "Unfortunately the new strain was out of control. We have got to get it under control."
While many leaders and scientists have been assuring the locals that the new variant can be easily handled, Hancock revealed the situation was "deadly serious" and people should stay at home to make sure the situation does not get any worse than this.
"It's going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out," he said. "This is what we face over the next couple of months."
Hancock's statement comes a day after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a Tier 4 lockdown in the capital city London and the rest of the country to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — especially since the new variant resulted in a surge of cases. The lockdown was not appreciated by the locals as it hampers their Christmas celebrations.
Johnson also reported that the new variant is 70 per cent more transmissible. However, whether or not is deadlier than the previous one is not yet clear.
(With inputs from agencies)