On Saturday, UK health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other Sars-Cov-2 virus strains.
Countries in the European Union and beyond began halting flight to and from the United Kingdom on Sunday due to risks associated with the discovery of a new coronavirus strain there. Although the new coronavirus variant is said to infect more easily, it does not appear to be more deadly or pose any concerns for vaccines, with developers of Sputnik V already saying that the Russian vaccine is effective against the new mutation.
The UK government has put parts of the country on lockdown, including London, after admitting that more than half of all new COVID-19 cases had been caused by the new strain.
On Sunday, France decided to shut its borders to British lorry traffic for 48 hours in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, thus disrupting supply chains, including through the port of Dover on which the UK is particularly reliant. Following the chaos around Dover and concerns of food shortages in the run-up to the Christmas holiday season, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to come up with a solution “as fast as possible” in order to unblock the passage.
Meanwhile, the global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 1.70 million and over 77.3 million cases of the infection have been detected, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Among the most affected nations are the US (18 million infected, 319,000 deaths), India (10 million cases, 145,000 fatalities), and Brazil (7.2 million cases, and a death toll of over 187,000).