Over the weekend, UK Prime Minister gave the world some pretty concerning news.
A new strain of the coronavirus had been discovered in the UK, and may be up to 70% more transmissible than the original virus.
Because of this, the UK government has been forced to impose lockdowns in certain areas, including the capital, for the festive period.
Meanwhile, nations all over the globe have imposed border restrictions on travellers from the UK, in a bid to keep the new Covid-19 variant – termed B117 – out of its country.
Singapore was one of the countries to bar travellers from the UK, but as we’ve seen this year, the coronavirus makes its way across the globe pretty quickly.
S’pore Confirms First COVID-19 Case with UK New Strain
On Wednesday (23 Dec), the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed the first Covid-19 case carrying the B117 strain in Singapore.
The confirmed case is a 17-year-old female who had been studying in the UK since August.
She returned to Singapore on 6 Dec and served her stay-home notice at a dedicated facility upon arrival.
She developed a fever on 7 Dec and was confirmed to be infected on 8 Dec.
She was included among the 21 imported infections reported yesterday.
All her close contacts had been placed on quarantine, and had tested negative for Covid-19 at the end of their quarantine period.
“As she had been isolated upon arrival in Singapore, we were able to ringfence this case so that there was no further transmission arising from her”, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.
11 Others ‘Preliminarily Positive’
The teenager may not be the only one in Singapore with the new Covid-19 strain, though.
According to CNA, Singapore’s National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for confirmed Covid-19 cases who had arrived from Europe recently.
A total of 31 imported cases from Europe who arrived in Singapore between 17 Nov and 17 Dec were confirmed to have the coronavirus this month.
Among them is the 17-year-old student.
Five samples couldn’t be sequenced due to their low viral load, and two cases have not been tested so far.
However, 11 other confirmed cases are “preliminarily positive” for the B117 strain, meaning we could have 12 cases of the B117 strain in the country if these 11 are confirmed to carry the mutated virus.
On the bright side, MOH said there’s “currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community”.
As previously mentioned, this particular strain is highly mutated, and unusually so. It has a total of 17 mutations.
One of the alterations is to the spike protein, which is what viruses use to enter our body’s cells.
The other mutation – an H69/V70 deletion, where a small part of the spike is removed, could render antibodies less effective at combating the virus.
No Evidence It’s More Deadly
While it may be more infectious, there’s no evidence this new coronavirus strain is more deadly.
The main worry with the B117 variant is that the increase in transmission would eventually overwhelm hospitals, leading to a shortage of staff, beds, and most importantly, ventilators.
You can read more about the B117 strain here.
Yet Another New Covid-19 Strain Found in UK
While the rest of the world is scrambling to keep the B117 strain out of their countries, yet another mutated coronavirus has been discovered in the UK.
And just like B117, this mutated Covid-19 virus may be more infectious.
The variant was first discovered in South Africa last week, with the government saying it could have triggered a recent spike in infections.
It has since been found in Britain in Covid-19 cases linked to South Africa.
Yes, in the last month of 2020, when we were supposed to be coming to the end of our battle with Covid-19, especially with several vaccines already in use, two new variants of the coronavirus which are potentially more infectious have been found.
We might have to come to terms with the fact that this disease isn’t going away that easily, and it certainly won’t disappear the moment we enter the new year.
Featured Image: Musashi akira / Shutterstock.com
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