Over a year after the first COVID-19 case was recorded, there is now growing alarm about new mutated strains of the virus that are far more infectious. The UK recently reported a new strain of the virus, following that up days later with a second similar announcement. Thus far, there seems to be multiple strains of the virus doing the rounds, and many nations have once again partially closed their borders.
To clarify, the UK had first revealed that a mutated version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was presently "out of control" across the island nation. Days later, the country explained that another new strain - thought to have its origin in South Africa - had also made its way to the UK. This article pertains to the first mutation - which seems to have been first seen in the UK.
Beyond the UK too, other mutations have been detected.
The latest to be affected by the strain that is currently wreaking havoc in UK is France. Authorities have now confirmed the first case stemming from the new variant. As per an AFP report that quotes the health ministry, the individual in question is asymptomatic and self-isolating at home in Tours in central France. He had arrived from London on December 19 and tested positive in the hospital on December 21. Contact-tracing has been carried out for the health professionals taking care of the patient.
France however is not the only country dealing with the threat of a new strain. Thus far, at least eight countries in Europe have recorded cases. Many others including India are testing those who had arrived from the UK recently - even as reports suggest that the strain may have already entered the country.
According to Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation's Regional Director for Europe, eight countries in Europe have now identified cases belonging to the new COVID-19 variant. "The variant also seems to be spreading among younger age groups unlike previous strains. Vigilance is important while research is ongoing to define its impact," he added.
Going by news reports, it would seem that cases with the new strain have been reported from at least 12 countries. As mentioned earlier, others are still testing and have not made any official announcements.
Apart from France, the list of countries includes Denmark, Singapore, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Gibraltar, Israel, Northern Ireland, Germany, Republic of Ireland and Japan.
(With inputs from agencies)