BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — There is a new variant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 found in South Africa and Nigeria, and a new variant spreading across most of England, reported Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, during the January 6 National Emergency Operation Centre COVID-19 Press Briefing.
“The science seems to suggest that these three strains of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus are different,” said Dr. Laws. “The scientists have done quite a lot of work on the new variant circulating in the United Kingdom (UK). They are saying is that this new variant is highly more transmissible than the virus’ previous version.”
Because of this, the UK is experiencing a surge in the number of cases. Dr. Laws said that on January 5, the number of new daily confirmed cases in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time. The BBC stated that the number of patients in hospitals in the UK is 40 times higher than what they experienced during the first peak in 2020.
“As a result, England is in its third national lockdown which came into force yesterday,” said Dr. Laws. “This may extend until approximately mid-February of this year.”
Dr. Laws said the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is more transmissible at 56 to 70 percent than the previous forms. It spreads more easily between people but does not seem to make people sicker. It will spread faster and infect more people, Because of this, the death toll will increase.
Dr. Laws said that as a result of this, returning nationals from the UK must be quarantined (confined to their rooms) for the two-week quarantine period. They will then have the requisite RT-PCR test done. After the test results are negative, they will be able to integrate into society.
“Travellers returning national from the United Kingdom, won’t be allowed to vacation in place,” said Dr. Laws. “Travellers will be quarantined and confined to their rooms for a two-week period.”
According to the New York Times, the new variant has been found in Florida, Colorado and California. It is rare now in the United States. Dr. Laws said that more testing needs to be done to determine the extent and ultimately its prevalence in the United States.