Five things Asia needs to know about new coronavirus variant

Five things Asia needs to know about new coronavirus variant

Mutation potentially 70% more infectious; countries bar entrants from Britain

TOKYO — Just as the world was beginning to hope for a resumption of travel and other pre-pandemic activities, thanks to the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, the appearance of a new variant has sparked fresh fears and uncertainty.

The new strain is potentially 70% more contagious than earlier ones and could prolong the coronavirus pandemic.

On Dec. 14, British authorities reported to the World Health Organization that a new variant had been identified. Following a third lockdown in London, governments around the world announced the reimposition of travel restrictions.

Furthermore, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia confirmed their first cases of the mutated virus.

And additional mutations are appearing. A new variant first detected in South Africa has also been identified in the U.K. “This virus is yet more transmissible and appears to have mutated further,” said Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary.

This latest variant emerged independently from the one discovered in the U.K. Moreover, the variants confirmed in the U.K. and South Africa have over a dozen mutations.