COVID-19: South African variant spreads in UK

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Government to launch emergency tests as 105 cases of new mutation discovered in 8 areas of London.

The South African variant of the coronavirus has been detected in eight different areas across England, the UK. The variant was discovered in people with no travel links to the African nation.

The government is to launch an urgent door-to-door testing scheme after 105 cases were identified in Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Walsall, and Sefton. The London boroughs of Ealing, Haringey, and Merton have also been affected by the mutation.

“Additional surge testing and sequencing is being deployed in a number of locations where the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found,” the government said in a statement.

“Testing will, in combination with following the lockdown rules and remembering ‘Hands. Face. Space’ help to monitor and suppress the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant.” the statement added.

The South African variant was detected in people who have no travel links to the Southern African state that is currently a part of the 30 “red-list” states from which travelers are banned from entering the UK.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has urged all people in the affected areas to get tested whether they have symptoms or not and has reminded people to stay home and follow current restrictions.

“The best way to stop the spread of the virus – including new variants – is to stay at home and follow the restrictions in place. Until more people are vaccinated this is the only way we will control the spread of the virus,” Hancock added.

On Monday, 18,607 new people in the UK tested positive for the coronavirus. Between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1, 166,126 people had a confirmed positive test result. The latest results represent a 29.7% decrease compared to the previous week.

There were 406 deaths on Monday and 8,033 fatalities were reported on Jan. 26-Feb. 1, representing a 7.4% decrease in the number of fatalities of the virus compared to the previous seven days.

The rate of vaccinations continues to increase as more than 9.29 million people have received the first dose and 494,209 people have been administered with the second dose as of Jan. 31.

The current R range for the UK remains the same from 0.7 to 1.1 as well as the current growth rate which remains -5% to 0% per day. The R number is a mechanism used to rate the virus’s ability to spread, with R being the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

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