The emergence of a new variant of corona virus dims hopes of flexible travel.
Starting April 20, Hong Kong suspended air flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for two weeks. The ban was decided on Sunday, according to local authorities.
It said, of the 30 new cases of transmission on Sunday, 29 were imported from abroad. Currently, Hong Kong’s health authorities admit that they have only distributed vaccines to around 9 percent of the 7.5 million population.
India, Pakistan and the Philippines are now classified as “very high risk”, following the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus that has sparked a dramatic spike in transmission rates.
Hong Kong authorities are especially wary of the South African variant which is currently starting to be detected domestically. Apart from the flight ban, citizens arriving from the three countries must undergo a hotel quarantine for 21 days, and a coronavirus test on the 26th day after arrival.
The dramatic step was taken when the city government had difficulty campaigning for mass vaccinations. The age limit for immunization recipients has now been expanded to 16 to 29 years, following the lack of interest in getting vaccinated.
Multiple mutations in India
India recorded a record jump in daily transmission cases of 273,810 cases on Monday (19/4). Currently, the total number of corona virus infections has exceeded 15 million cases. India’s death toll also increased by 1,619 on Monday, to a total of 178,769 deaths from Covid-19.
The new wave of the corona outbreak in India or Pakistan has been largely influenced by the spread of variant B.1.1.7 from England. But it is the emergence of the dual mutation of the coronavirus in India that has sparked new concerns.
The two mutations, E484Q and L452R, which were found separately in the British and South African variants, are now for the first time being found in a single variant of the coronavirus.
According to a study in the state of Maharahstra, as many as 60% of study participants had a new variant named B.1.617. India’s richest state has registered more than 68,000 cases of daily transmission following the resumption of economic and social activities in February.
As a result of this emergence, Europe is now considering restrictions on travel to India. It is feared that this variant could nullify efforts to recover through a mass vaccination program. In the UK, academics and epidemiologists are pressing the government to place India on its no-entry list
new variant of corona virus
The second wave in the Philippines
A precarious situation has also hit the neighboring Philippines, which recorded more than 10,000 cases of transmission daily on Sunday (18/4). Health authorities in Manila reported that 141,089 active cases were being handled.
The new spike has brought the total number of infections in the Philippines since last year to almost 1 million cases. Similar in other countries, the second wave of the corona outbreak was mostly triggered by the spread of the British and South African variants.
The appearance of a new variant, named B.126.96.36.199, was first detected in Central Bisaya, and shares many similarities with the Brazilian variant, B.1.1.28. In January, the Hong Kong authorities had reported a case of transmission of the new variant to a citizen who had just returned from Philippines.
Currently, Singapore, Britain and a number of other countries have reportedly detected the transmission of the Philippine variant to their citizens.
In addition to the two new corona variants, epidemiologists have also warned against the spread of two other new variants, which were found in Oregon and California, United States.
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