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Brazilian Strain of COVID 19 Causes UK to Close its Borders

As the pressure increases to speed up the process of the vaccine development and distribution, a new variant of Covid 19 is on rise in the United Kingdom (UK). It is being referred to as the Brazilian strain and is raising concerns because of its mutant nature. The virus is believed to have gone through genetic changes and will remain unaffected by the current vaccines. It exhibits E484K mutation tendency which makes it easy for it to evade antibodies and immune systems. Three cases were detected in England with three others in Scotland. 

According to a BBC report, there were questions raised about the lack of a system of compulsory hotel quarantine and that had resulted in the virus strains entering the UK. However, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied any such claims on Tuesday.

However, the government is taking measures to check the situation. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of hardening the border restrictions further and described the measures to be one of the harshest in the world. In addition to the travel restrictions, there has been a ban on unnecessary staying out of the household over night or even otherwise. This has resulted in a big blow to the tourism sector. UK hosts a huge number of tourists in the coming months but the new genetic variant of the coronavirus has forced the British government to take strict measures to curtail the travel to the minimum requirement. All holiday plans have been banned. 

The UK Government has made a deal with the biopharmaceutical company CureVac to develop more vaccines which will be capable of dealing with future variants of the virus by following the RNA messenger technology. Though the companies have started their research to expedite the process, the clinic trials will take their due course of time. In that case, bans on travel will work towards containing the spread of virus from overseas into the UK.

Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales suggested that UK “build walls higher” by tightening the border restrictions. However Prime Minister Johnson defended the quarantine measures and the restrictions saying they had the best possible system in place.

UK had considered the possibility of “vaccine passports” to help the travel sector. But UK has been accused of going slow, less strict and easy in the initial phase of lockdown. While the government officials deny such allegations, the measures taken now especially about the bans on travel have hampered the tourism industry majorly especially the Welsh areas. In London, the sector is expected to face a fall by GBP 10.9 billion. The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a tax deduction, and a support system to help those in economic distress. 

With the new strain in the country, it is important that the restrictions be taken seriously. The COVID 19 virus in its mutant form is much more infectious and capable of distorting the immunity of the affected. It has cause panic in the public. The way forward and how the economy comes out of the crisis is to be seen.