Boris Johnson Photograph:( Reuters )
Netizens took to social media to express concern over what they referred to as #COVID20, a play on the year 2020, and the moniker 'COVID 2.0', to signify the new threat which has come up in the form of the novel coronavirus strain
The British government on December 19 alerted the World Health Organisation about a new variant of the coronavirus that the Prime Minister said maybe “up to 70 per cent” more transmissible than earlier strains.
The new strain – now officially named VUI-202012/01 – showed a “substantial increase in transmissibility”.
Over 60 per cent of new infections in London were now accounted for by the new variant.
However, "there's no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness," or that vaccines would be less effective against it, he said.
Several countries have banned flights from the UK over fears about a new coronavirus variant that has forced millions of people in Britain to cancel their Christmas plans.
Netizens took to social media to express concern over what they referred to as #COVID20, a play on the year 2020, and the moniker 'COVID 2.0', to signify the new threat which has come up in the form of the novel coronavirus strain.
Twitterati also expressed concern over UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's upcoming India visit on Republic Day as the chief guest of the parade, drawing a parallel with the 'Namaste Trump' event earlier in January, when US President Donald Trump had arrived in India for a high-profile public tour amid the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
India Namaste Trump program ka Natija bhugt chuka hai to plz govt should postpone all flights from UK immediately without any statement and also postpone @BorisJohnson visit program in India... I humbly request to you Mr. PM sir @narendramodi @umashankarsingh— Indrajeet Kumar Singh (@Iksingh_08_57) December 21, 2020
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has stressed there is no evidence to suggest the new strain is more likely to cause serious disease.
''There are many variants. It just happens that this one has quite a few more mutations than some of the other variants, so that’s the reason why we’ve taken it particularly seriously,'' explained Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer.
''But there’s nothing to suggest that the symptoms are different, that the testing is different, or that the clinical outcome is different for this variant.''
The new strain first occurred in September in South East London and by November, it accounted for 28 per cent of all new Covid infections in the capital, rising to 62 per cent by December 9.
According to the WHO, apart from the UK, nine cases of the new strain have been reported in Denmark, as well as one case in the Netherlands and another in Australia.
WHO has also advised all its members in Europe to step up measures against coronavirus.