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COVID19: UK strain may already be in Cyprus

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Measures to prevent a new potent string of the coronavirus from the UK entering the island may be too late and unnecessary, as the strain has probably already found its way to Cyprus, say experts.

Member of the government’s advisory committee on the virus outbreak, Virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis from the University of Nicosia Medical School told the Cyprus News Agency that virus mutations do not occur overnight.

Thus, the new strain must have been circulating in the UK for several weeks now.

“The virus’ mutation has already been detected in Italy, the Netherlands and even Australia. We have frequent air links with Britain and may have already arrived.

“So, precautionary measures taken in European countries are a bit late,” said Karayiannis.

He argued that experts in Cyprus cannot comment further on the mutation as there is no scientific data available at the moment.

“It has been reported that the new strain is more contagious. But how did they come to this conclusion; did they find clusters?

“From information out there, the new strain appears to be more contagious, but it does not make people sicker, nor does it alter the effectiveness of vaccines.”

People arriving from the UK on Monday will be quarantined in a government-designated facility ( a hotel) for seven days and tested at the airport.

Meanwhile, Dr Leondios Kostrikis, professor of Molecular Immunology at the University of Cyprus, said there is currently no need for panic.

Talking to website Philenews, Kostrikis explained that virus mutations are frequent and that mutating is one of their functions which does not mean that it affects the way they spread or the way our immune system responds to the virus.

“The current panic over the mutation of the virus is unnecessary, as this virus has existed for over a year now, so genetic mutations must be expected”.

“We can’t be closing airports every time a virus mutates.”

Kostrikis argues the current state of panic is political.

Asked about relaxation of measures over Christmas, Kostrikis believes there is no room for relaxations as the situation is critical.

Scientists advise that people stick to the same bubble during the holidays and not interact with people outside their close family circle.