A new strain of the corona virus is driving up the number of new infections in the UK, despite strict blockade measures in place across the country.
Data released by the UK government shows that the country had 53,285 new infections in the first day of January 1, and 613 deaths. During the past week, the number of deaths due to disease in the UK was 3,876, the Financial Times reported.
According to a study by Imperial London University, the new strain of the virus causes the infection rate to be at 1.1-1.3, which is an increase of about 0.4-0.7 compared to previous versions of the virus. In order for the number of new infections to begin decreasing, the infection rate needs to remain below 1.
“The infection rate in the Southeast was previously 0.9 during the blockade, but with the new strain, the infection rate was 1.5 even after the blockade, resulting in new infections outbreaks. Our situation is serious now,” said Deepti Gurdasani, professor of epidemiology from Queen Mary University.
The new strain spreads more commonly among people under the age of 20. However, in recent weeks it has spread rapidly among the older population. Infection rates are less likely to drop below 1 if schools remain open, the Imperial College London study found.
In the latest effort to curb the spread of the virus, Education Minister Gavin Williamson has ordered that all elementary schools in London continue to be closed next week. Even so, the authorities said there would be no change to the nation’s school opening policy in January.
Ms. Meera Chand, an official at the British Center for Public Health, said studies have shown evidence of the more contagious potential of the new virus strain, and advised people to strictly adhere to distance method.
The new strain of the virus put heavy pressure on the UK government’s efforts to distribute vaccines. Experts warn that the current rate of virus delivery is not enough to change the course of the disease.
Health Minister Matt Hancock on January 1 said that 1 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to date. The UK government aims to continue distributing 2 million doses of the vaccine next week, up seven times from current levels.