After an emergency meeting with his cabinet on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a new strain of COVID-19 is spreading quickly through regions in the south of England.
The country’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, confirmed that case figures continue to climb at a rapid pace and said the government believes the new strain is able to spread faster.
We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyze the available data to improve our understanding.
While there is no evidence right now showing the new strain is any more deadly, the British government believes it is responsible for the rapid surge in cases that have been recorded in England over the last week or so.
According to Whitty, via The Canadian Press, the new strain of COVID-19 was identified through genomic surveillance.
In response to this update, multiple European countries restricted travel into the United Kingdom on Sunday.
Both the Netherlands and Belgium banned flights from the country, while Germany made similar considerations.
Trains into Britain were also cancelled by Belgian authorities.
Tougher public health measures have now been introduced across multiple regions in the U.K., including restrictions on socializing through the holiday period.