US officials investigate surge in coronavirus cases amid fears UK mutation travelled
Coronavirus: Spread of COVID-19 variants discussed by expert
Scientists in Los Angeles County have started a probe into a new and more transmissible strain of coronavirus, Los Angeles Times reported. They are working to find out whether the new strain is the same as found in the UK after a major surge in cases.
According to officials, there are concerns the mutation is a cause of increased spread in the County.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said the existence of new strain could explain why there have been such high transmission rates in the area.
But some experts and public health officials highlighted that many families are flouting coronavirus rules to meet up.
Mr Garcetti told the Times: “This happened devastatingly quickly.
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“Everybody I talked to said this acceleration was beyond any model and any expectation, so then people say ‘What broke down?’ and I’ve got to think it’s partly the strain that was out there.”
The Times reported that the LA County Public Health Department asked laboratories on Thursday to analyse recent figures for indications of a specific gene detection pattern.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also confirmed on Thursday that those travelling to the US from the UK will need a negative coronavirus test from within three days prior to their flight.
While the new variant appears to lead to an increased transmission rate does, it not seem to make patients more likely to die from the disease.
The chief medical adviser for the incoming Joe Biden administration, Dr Anthony Fauci said it is likely the new strain found in the UK could have arrived in the US.
He told PBS NewsHour :”When you see something that is pretty prevalent in a place like the UK, there are also mutations that we’re seeing in South Africa, and given travel throughout the world, I would not be surprised if it’s already here.
“When we start to look for it we’re gonna find it.”
South Africa also raised concerns of a new, more transmissible strain after the country saw a spike in Covid-19 cases.
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The country’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said the mutation seems to be connected to higher rates of severe symptoms in younger people.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has asked anyone who has been to South Africa over the last two weeks to quarantine.
He said: “This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK.”
South Africa’s health minister rejected Mr Hancock’s claims in a statement released on Thursday.
He said there was no evidence the strain, named 501.V2, led to a higher mortality.
He said: “At present, there is no evidence that the 501.V2 is more transmissible than the United Kingdom variant – as suggested by the British Health Secretary.
”There is also no evidence that [it] causes more severe disease or increased mortality than the UK variant or any variant that has been sequenced around the world”.
Mr Mkhize said Mr Hancock’s remarks “have created a perception that the variant in SA has been a major factor in the second wave in UK. This is not correct.”
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