The year 2021 is expected to arrive on a grim note as the new COVID-19 strain discovered in the UK is expected to lead to a surge in hospitalisations and deaths due to its higher transmissibility rate.
According to a study published by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, a new variant that emerged in Southeast England is 56 per cent more transmissible than the original version.
Scientists have also requested the governments across the world to ensure expeditious roll out of COVID-19 vaccine in their respective countries to prevent more deaths.
Researchers were, however, uncertain with regards to the severity of this new strain when compared to its predecessor. "Nevertheless, the increase in transmissibility is likely to lead to a large increase in incidence, with Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths projected to reach higher levels in 2021 than were observed in 2020, even if regional tiered restrictions implemented before December 19 are maintained," researchers told AFP.
The UK government had previously claimed the mutant appears to be 70 per cent more transmissible than the already existing strains. The virus strain has sent alarm bells ringing as China has suspended flights to the UK indefinitely.
Currently, eight flights are operational between China and Britain, including one each by Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
Italy and Singapore have also reported first cases of the new coronavirus variant. In Italy, the patient, who was infected with the new coronavirus strain, had returned from the island nation along with his partner. Both have been placed under isolation.
All Covid-19 patients who came from Europe to Singapore have been placed in 14-day quarantine at dedicated centres or isolated upon their arrival. Their close contacts have been also placed in isolation.