WHO: Europe needs stronger measures against new strain of coronavirus
On Sunday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement in which they advised European countries to implement tougher measures in light of the new strain of coronavirus that has been detected.
New mutation of coronavirus discovered in the UK
The COVID-19 mutation was first discovered in the United Kingdom, but has since also been found in Denmark, Australia, Italy, South Africa, and the Netherlands. The WHO is encouraging Europe to take tougher action against the spread of the virus, and has asked countries around the world to research the new strain and share their findings with eachother.
Since the discovery of the strain was announced, a number of European countries, including the Netherlands and France, have closed their borders to the UK in the hopes that this will prevent the mutated virus from spreading.
Stricter coronavirus measures in the Netherlands before Christmas?
While the WHO might be calling for tougher action, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has said that the new mutation is “no reason to panic, but is a cause for concern.” On Sunday evening, the Dutch government announced a flight and train ban between the UK and the Netherlands, which came into effect at 6am on Monday morning.
While the De Jonge is discussing options to further limit travel between the two countries, there are no plans to tighten coronavirus restrictions within the Netherlands, at least not before Christmas: “The information we have now gives no reason to do so.”
Dutch virologist and Professor of Virology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Ab Osterhaus, told De Telegraaf that the measures currently in place in the Netherlands were enough, even with the new strain, saying the country already had a number of strict measures and that, as long as they were adhered to, they should be sufficient, at least for the time being.
What do we know about the new strain?
Research conducted in the UK shows that the new coronavirus strain is not more severe, but does spread at a much faster rate - it could be up to 70 percent more contagious than the “original” virus.
So far, only one case of the new strain has been reported in the Netherlands, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the mutation isn’t spreading here as well. But experts are saying that the recent increase in the number of infections across the country is “almost certainly unrelated” to the discovery of the new strain.
The fact that coronavirus has mutated is not unusual - it is widely believed that a mutation of the virus is what allowed COVID-19 to spread so rapidly throughout western Europe in the spring - and experts currently believe that the coronavirus vaccines in development will still be effective against the new mutation.