The United Kingdom has detected a new variation of Covid-19 that England's chief medical officer says is more contagious than previous variants.
Professor Chris Whitty says “urgent work” is underway to rule out if the new strain, prevalent in the south east of England, can cause a higher mortality rate.
“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 in a statement.
Here's what else we know.
What we know about the variant:
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant could be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant, although there is still "considerable uncertainty."
Where it's been detected:
- The World Health Organization says the new variant has also been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.
- Australia said on Monday that it had detected two cases of the new variant in Australian quarantine facilities.
What other countries are doing in response:
- More than a dozen countries are banning travel from the UK in response to the new variant.
- Those countries include the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
- Other countries are imposing restrictions -- the Czech Republic has imposed a 10-day mandatory quarantine on anyone arriving from the UK.