Covid-19: UK strain reached Belgium through the Netherlands, virologist says

Covid-19: UK strain reached Belgium through the Netherlands, virologist says
Credit: Belga

The new strain of coronavirus discovered in the United Kingdom reached Belgium through the Netherlands, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

Belgium was among the first countries to ban passenger travel from the UK, shutting down the Eurostar as well as flights, following the discovery of the new strain, which is thought to be more infectious. Despite the ban, the strain was found a total of four times in Belgium since the end of November, virologist Steven Van Gucht said on Monday.

However, “this mutant we found in a border town in Belgium did not come from the United Kingdom, but through contact with a positive person in the Netherlands, Zeeland,” Van Ranst said.

While Belgium's ban on all passenger transport from the UK ends tonight, people whose main residence is in Belgium will still be allowed to enter the country, and a limited number of “strictly necessary non-postponable journeys” can also happen again. For all other passengers, the ban will continue to apply until 31 December.

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The new variant caused parts of England to return to stricter coronavirus measures after it drove a sharp rise in areas like London, Kent and Essex.

While there is no evidence that the new strain makes people sicker or is more deadly, it does seem to be more infectious, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Variants of the virus are found regularly, according to Van Ranst, which Van Gucht said is normal, adding that "some mutations of the virus disappear very quickly, others remain and can become dominant.”

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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