Last week, the cases of COVID-19 started increasing in England and London. The latest surge in infection is caused by a new strain of coronavirus. The new SARS-CoV-2 strain is known as the B.1.1.7 lineage or VUI (Variant Under Investigation) 202012/01. The new strain has several mutations in its genome especially in the spike protein. These mutations are helping the virus to infect human cells and spread more easily. Over 1,100 people have been infected with the new strain as of December 13.

Due to the fast growing infection, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new tier four level of restrictions in London and much of the south-east of England. The government has advised people to stay at home and avoid travelling.

Generally, all the viruses mutate and the coronavirus is no such exception, it has also mutated several times before. But experts suggest that the new strain of coronavirus is 70 percent more infectious than the existing strain of the virus.

On 21st December, India announced temporary suspension of all the flights to and from the UK to prevent the spread of new strain. The ban is starting from December 22nd and will stay up to December 31st. The ban is applicable only on passenger flights and there is an exemption to cargo flights.

Passengers arriving from UK to India before 22nd December should undergo RT-PCR test at the airports. Passengers tested COVID-19 positive will be sent for institutional quarantine. Those tested negative will remain in isolation at home for 7 days.
Many other countries have also suspended UK flights including Canada, Russia, France, Italy, Germany and Ireland. It is not known how the new stain will react with the vaccine and how effective the vaccine will be. But till now the new strain hasn’t showcased any new symptoms.

We hope and wish this virus doesn’t cause us to lose any more of your near and dear one. Team Shiksha wishes you all with a good health this festive season.