Health ministry calls urgent meeting on Monday over new Covid-19 variant in UK


The Union Health Ministry has called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom (UK), which has been identified to be up to 70 per cent more infectious.

The Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), chaired by the Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) meet 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 also likely to be a part of the meeting.

The meeting will likely take place in the first half on Monday.

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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 Tier-4 category stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

“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 told news agency PTI.

UK PM Boris Johnson has said that the fast-moving new variant of the coronavirus that is more than 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains appears to be driving the rapid spread in London and southern England.

Stricter coronavirus restrictions in UK due to new virus strain

A surge in the infection rate caused by the new variant of the coronavirus has led the UK government to impose a new, stricter level of coronavirus restrictions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that millions of people must cancel their Christmas get-togethers and most shops have to close in London and much of southern England.

Johnson said on Saturday that London and large areas in southern England already placed under the highest level of the UK government’s three-tiered coronavirus alert system will move into a new Tier 4 that requires all non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor leisure venues to close after the end of business hours Saturday.

With just days to go until Christmas, Johnson also announced that a planned easing of socialising rules that would have allowed up to three households to meet in “Christmas bubbles” from December 23 to December 27 will be cancelled for Tier 4 areas and sharply curtailed in the rest of England.

“It seems that the spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus,” Johnson said.

“We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding,” said Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England.

“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” he said.



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