A new strain of COVID-19 has been identified in the UK, jolting countries around the world to attention.
Across Europe and the world, countries are halting all direct flights to the UK in fear of a new variant of the virus named B.1.1.7. The new strain is reported to be present in Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Virus evolution is of course nothing new.
Viruses mutate and vaccines are updated yearly for seasonal influenza. Scientists have detected mutations of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic as well, but this strain seems to supersede those that came before.
The new variant is thought to have occurred first in mid-September in south-east England, either in London or Kent.
Not much is known about the new strain of COVID-19, but scientists are saying that it is no more severe than the Coronavirus we have been faced with so far. However, it appears to be 70% more infectious, and that alone is cause for concern.
This conclusion was based on the apparent rise in cases in southern England, but the hospitalization rates remain the same.
While some claim that the new strain of COVID-19 would not hinder the effectiveness of the vaccine, in truth, this is speculation as no actual data has been gathered, and more information is needed. In the meantime, the UK has implemented more severe lockdown measures in hopes of avoiding the worst.
Stocks fell when announcements were made about a new threat looming and countries around the world have their hand hovering over the lockdown button. Retailers and businesses are holding their breath, preparing for what could be more troubling times ahead.
Many Brits were looking forward to spending Christmas with their loved ones, but the recent developments have forced a sudden change of plan. UK citizens are now urged to refrain from mixing households, especially with elderly or at-risk family members.