The World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe met on Wednesday to discuss the new variant of the coronavirus, which has wreaked havoc in the UK and caused high alert across Europe.
The WHO European region comprises 53 countries, including Russia and several countries in Central Asia. In total, the region has recorded nearly 24 million cases of coronavirus and more than 500,000 deaths.
WHO Europe said it had brought its members together to discuss strategies to counter the new, more infectious variant:
“This will be a closed-door expert meeting, not a planning meeting, and this is an opportunity for UK health authorities to take stock of the situation and answer related questions,” a spokesperson said. word of the WHO.
In a tweet, the UN health body said it had found a “substantial increase in virus transmission, but no evidence yet of increased severity” from the new variant.
The WHO also said “rapid studies” were underway to “examine clinical severity and potential for reinfection,” while adding that the variant was more frequently found in younger age groups.
Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, weighed in on recent border closures imposed by European countries on the UK, in a bid to stop the variant of the virus.
“It is prudent to limit travel to contain the spread until we have better information,” but Kluge warned that “supply chains for essential goods and essential travel should remain possible.”
Germany was one of the countries that have banned flights from the UK and on Tuesday Berlin extended the ban until January 6.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said that “as long as possible” Germany aims to prevent “potentially dangerous viral mutations from spreading in continental Europe”.
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