International

Covid: WHO in ‘close contact’ with UK over new virus variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is in “close contact” with UK officials over the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus.

The new variant is spreading more rapidly than the original version, but is not believed to be more deadly.

Large parts of south-east England, including London, are now under a new, stricter level of restrictions in a bid to curb the rapidly spreading virus.

There is no evidence to suggest the new variant reacts differently to vaccines.

On Sunday, the Netherlands introduced a ban on passenger flights from the UK because of the new variant. The ban will remain in place until 1 January, the Dutch government said.

The move comes after sampling of a case in the Netherlands earlier this month revealed the same new variant of coronavirus as that found in the UK.

Pending “greater clarity” on the situation in the UK, it said “the risk of the new virus strain being introduced to the Netherlands should be minimised as much as possible”.

The Dutch government also said it would work with other European Union member states in the coming days to “explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK”.