New coronavirus mutant out of control

New coronavirus mutant out of control
LONDON, DEC 20 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 12/20/2020 11:45:24 AM IST

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the new mutant strain of the coronavirus is “out of control” and suggested parts of England will be stuck in the new highest tier of restrictions until a vaccine is rolled out.

More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home as a lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England and the government scrapped plans to relax rules on socializing at Christmas in an attempt to control the fast-spreading new variant of the virus. The measures ban household mixing in the capital and the southeast, and restrict socializing to just Christmas Day across the rest of England. Residents across the country were told to keep to their local areas.

“Cases have absolutely rocketed, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Hancock told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday program. “I think it will be very difficult to keep it under control until the vaccine has rolled out.” People in the new so-called Tier 4 areas “should behave as though they have it,” he said. Johnson had originally planned to ease pandemic rules for five days during the holiday, but made an abrupt change of tack after emergency talks on the virus mutation with his top officials. 

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 stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new variant-- which Hancock said has also appeared in Australia and continental Europe-- can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge surge in infections in recent days.

Most Sunday newspapers carried stories of people cancelling Christmas plans. Conservative member of Parliament Mark Harper, who represents a caucus that opposes lockdown measures, urged the government to summon lawmakers from their vacation so a vote can be held. Hancock said that a vote will happen in January. “We made the commitment not knowing that there was going to be a new variant that spreads so much faster,” Hancock said, of the original plans. He said there is “no evidence” the new strain-- VUI-202012/01-- is milder than the original virus. 

Hancock said that as of Saturday morning 350,000 people had been vaccinated, with the ambition to reach 500,000 by the end of the weekend.

Centre calls for emergency meet today

Union Health Ministry has called for an emergency meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has led to a surge in the infection rate there.

“The Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) chaired by DG of Health Services 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, a member of the JMG, is likely to participate in the meeting,” a source told PTI.

COVID-19 linked ‘black fungus infection’ appears across Delhi

IANS adds: The cases of rare ‘black fungus infection’ linked with COVID-19 have started to appear across the hospitals in the national capital after being highlighted by Ganga Ram hospital a few days ago.

However, doctors said this alarming affliction called Mucormycosis is rare but not new. What is new is the impact of COVID behind triggering this deadly infection.

Max Superspeciality hospital in Delhi has reported as many as 24 cases amid the COVID pandemic. Sanjay Sachdeva, Principal Director of ENT, Max hospital, told IANS that all these patients had COVID-19 while 20 of them lost their eyesight. Sachdeva observed that COVID is also somehow aggrieving the fungal infection.

Sonali Malhotra, Senior resident, ENT, at Centre-run Lady Hardinge Medical College, told IANS that in the last one-and-a-half months, at least five cases were reported in the hospital. Of them, three were COVID-linked.

As per doctors, Mucormycosis has been a cause of disease and death in transplants, ICU and Immunodeficient individuals since long, however, it is the rapid increase in numbers seen in unsuspected COVID patients which is matter of grave concern.


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