New coronavirus variant likely in most European countries-Expert
London, Dec. 26, 2020 (AltAfrica)-A Frenchman who recently arrived back in France from London has tested positive for the new variant of the coronavirus
The first in France had been found in the city of Tours. The man in question arrived from London on Dec. 19, and he was currently self-isolating and felt alright, the French Health Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Mow an expert in the United Kingdom has said that the new variant of coronavirus is likely already in most if not all European countries.
Neil Ferguson, the Director at MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said that experts picking up ten cases of the variant in a country as small as Denmark with a relatively low infection rate “would suggest … that this virus has been introduced into the great majority if not all of European countries at the current time.”
Ferguson was speaking about the new variant alongside other experts before the UK’s Science and Technology Committee.
So far, only a few cases of the new variant, which was first reported in the UK in September, have been recorded internationally.
Cases have been found in Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium and now France. Outside of Europe, there have been four confirmed cases of the new variant in Australia.
But UK experts say that other countries have lower sequencing capabilities, meaning they may not be as likely to find the new variant in patients.
Ferguson said that although the UK does “disproportionately sequence”, experts hypothesise that the variant originated in Kent.
“Epidemiologically, it looks like a point source spreading out from a location, but we cannot completely rule out that it was an importation into that part of the country from elsewhere in the world,” said Ferguson.
The comments came after several European countries closed their borders to the United Kingdom in an effort to stop the spread of the variant, which officials say is more transmissible and spreading rapidly in southeastern England and in London.
France has now reopened its border for citizens, residents and those with a “legitimate reason” to travel but only in the event that they test negative for coronavirus within 72 hours of travel.
“Blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes,” said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders after several countries stopped flights coming from the UK.
Amid the travel bans, British supermarkets warned that there could be gaps in stock due to the closures. Sainsbury’s warned that salad, cauliflower, broccoli, and citrus fruit could all run out within a week.