Singapore/washington, Dec 21
Australia today said it had detected cases of the new fast-spreading Covid strain, identified in the United Kingdom. Two travellers from the UK to Australia’s New South Wales state were found carrying the mutated variant of the virus that Britain has said could be up to 70% more infectious.
Both are in hotel quarantine, and the recent spike in infections in Sydney is not linked to this, authorities said.
The new UK strain has prompted Britain’s European neighbours and several others including Canada, Iran and India to close their doors to travellers from the country. Much is unknown about the strain, but experts said current vaccines should still be effective against it.
Asian nations including Japan and South Korea said they were monitoring the new strain even as they battle a rise in infections at home. Hong Kong banned flights from Britain.
The Chinese special administrative region said on Monday that people arriving from Britain before December 22 would have to quarantine for three weeks instead of two.
South Korea, which imposes a 14-day quarantine on everyone entering the country, said it was reviewing new measures for flights from Britain.
Britain is one of 23 countries that India shares an “air bubble” with.
In Washington, Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy, US President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Surgeon General, has said there is no evidence to suggest that the new Covid variant was any deadlier. Murthy, 43, said that there was no reason to believe that the vaccines already developed would not be effective against it.
President-elect Joe Biden will receive his first dose of the Covid vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe. — Reuters