The Indian health ministry’s joint Covid-19 joint monitoring group will on Monday meet to discuss the new mutant coronavirus strain that has cropped up in the United Kingdom, reported NDTV. The meeting is likely to occur at 10 am.

Nearly a third of England’s population has entered a lockdown, four days before Christmas, as authorities warned that the new strain of the virus was going “out of control”. The new variant of the virus has spread rapidly in London and South East England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said the new strain “may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant” although there was no evidence it was more deadly or led to a more severe illness.

In India, the joint monitoring group chaired by the director general of health services will discuss the mutated variant of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization’s India representative Dr Roderico H Ofrin, also a member of the group, may participate in the meeting, according to NDTV.

The mutation of the virus has worried experts across the world as drug manufacturers are still in the preliminary stages of the vaccine against Covid-19. The new variant in the UK was first seen in mid-September in London and Kent. By December, it had become the “dominant variant” in London.

On Sunday, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said that experts in the European Union believed the current vaccines being developed against Covid-19 will be effective against the new strain, reported AFP. “According to everything we know so far” the new strain “has no impact on the vaccines”, which remain “just as effective”, Spahn told public broadcaster ZDF.

Johnson had on Saturday asked the people to cancel their Christmas plans and stay home as the new strain was spreading more quickly. He announced a new Tier-4 level of restrictions cancelling plans for relaxed Christmas norms. London, which till now was in Tier 3 with the strict restrictions, was moved up to Tier 4, the highest level of curbs.

Several European countries are considering banning flights coming from the United Kingdom to prevent the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus. The Netherlands and Belgium have suspended flights, and Belgium has stopped trains from the UK as well. Germany also stopped flights from Britain and may consider the same for flights coming from South Africa, where another variant of the virus was found.

France banned all travel from the United Kingdom for 48 hours from Monday. The French Prime Minister’s Office said the short two-day period would give authorities time to come up with a common doctrine to tackle the new strain of the virus, reported AP. Austria has said it will also stop flights, but did not specify when it would begin.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Sunday temporarily stopped all international flights and halted entry through its land and sea ports for at least seven days, amid concerns over the new strain of the coronavirus found in Britain.

The UK has so far reported 20,10,077 Covid-19 infections, according to the John Hopkins University data. The toll stood at 67,177.

Also read:

  1. UK imposes more curbs after new strain of coronavirus found that ‘can spread more quickly’
  2. Coronavirus: Netherlands, Belgium ban flights from UK as new virus strain looks ‘out of control’