A small number of infections have been detected in Japan, Spain, France and Canada, involving a new and more likely variant of the coronavirus, most of which are related to travel to the UK for the first time.
The rapid spread of the variant led to the blockade of London and southern England this week, which prompted France to temporarily block the English Channel, and led to the prohibition of travel by British travelers, because very few countries conduct genome monitoring in the UK. Indeed, some people are worried about the change. The body may spread around the world undetected within a few weeks.
The Ministry of Health of Japan said that so far, 7 people in Japan have diagnosed the British variant. All of these people have either been to the UK recently or keep in touch with people who have been in contact.
The Japanese discovery prompted Japan to close the borders of entry for all non-resident foreigners. According to the public broadcaster NHK, the ban will take effect at midnight on Monday and will last until the end of January.
The local government said on Saturday that the variant was found in the capital region in Spain. Regional health officer Antonio Zapatero said that Madrid has confirmed 4 cases and 3 other cases are considered suspicious. At least two cases involved people and their relatives who had recently been to the UK and then tested positive in Madrid.
The French Ministry of Health said that the first case of a new rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus was found in France on Friday. Officials said the patient was a French citizen living in the United Kingdom. He traveled from London to the central French city of Tours on December 19, just after this variant appeared, the day before the British government imposed a blockade.
Health officials in Ontario, Canada, said on Saturday that they have confirmed two cases of the mutant virus in the province. The two cases include a couple from Durham, about 90 miles northwest of Toronto. The Ministry of Health of the province said the couple had no known travel experience, exposure or high-risk exposure.
Viral mutations are normal, and most mutations in coronaviruses have proven to be minor. There are 23 mutations in the British variant constellation, some of which may change its spread. Vaccine experts are confident that the available vaccine will be able to block the new variant, although it must be confirmed through laboratory experiments currently underway.
EU member states plan to start vaccination against the virus with Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine on Sunday. Hungary will be vaccinated one day in advance from Saturday.
A number of other variants related to variants have also been identified, one in South Africa and the other in Nigeria. The UK said on Thursday that it will ban travel from South Africa after the British Minister of Health Matt Hancock said that two people have been confirmed to have been infected with the mutation there.
Germany and Singapore have confirmed the infection of the new variant. The Danish health authorities say that compared with many other countries, Denmark has more extensive genome surveillance. From November 14 to December 14, a total of 33 cases of this variant were detected.
The United States has not reported any cases of the British variant. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that the UK will require all airline passengers arriving from the UK to test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours before departure. The rule will take effect on Monday.
Ueno HisakoMike Ives provided the report.