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Audio | The Guardian: The new strain of coronavirus that has cancelled Christmas

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Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley looks at the fast-spreading Covid variant that has prompted the prime minister to put London, the south east and the east of England into tier 4 and more than 40 countries to ban UK arrivals because of concerns about the spread

Yesterday Boris Johnson held an emergency Cobra meeting to look at the emergence of a new Covid variant that has prompted flights from the UK to be suspended to countries across the world including Spain, Italy, Canada, India and Hong Kong. France has shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferries can leave from the port of Dover.

The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, talks to Rachel Humphreys about what we know so far about the variant, which is said to be as much as 70% more transmissible than previous versions. It now accounts for more than 60% of new infections reported in London. The government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said there was no evidence that this strain of the virus was more lethal. But faster transmission would mean more cases, which could lead to more hospitalisations and deaths. On Monday, Prof Neil Ferguson, a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said preliminary data hinted that the variant could more effectively infect children, though causality had not been established.

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5398562 Audio | The Guardian


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