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UK’S CASES ARE GOING UP! WHATS UP?

WHEN you think that Covid-19 is slowly losing its grip and soon dying out then ”boom!” you hear there is an outbreak somewhere else.

This time around it is in a number of countries in Europe but notably the UK. It wasn’t so long ago that the UK has had numbers under control because of the long lockdown and restrictions the country had.

Contrarily, now it is reported that cases are once again rising and very fast to records that are alarming. The UK is now said to have the highest Covid cases in the world.

They average over 40, 000 cases a day and recently recorded 223 deaths higher than what was in March. The rise in cases is believed to have mainly been among school going children who later on take it to their parents who spread among their generation and then it is headlines all over again.

So what really could be behind the recent surge in cases in UK and should this be a concern?

As always with Covid there are no definite answers to this question as information keeps on getting updated on a daily basis. Nonetheless, we can try and speculate what could be going. A lot of scientists have given their thoughts on this and they have raised a lot of questions. But I will highlight on three.

1. COULD IT BE DUE THE OPENING UP OF THE COUNTRY?

The UK like most European countries has eased restrictions owing to the vaccination rate. Although the easing is also as a result of public fatigue pressure. Just how adherent the public is to the public health measures is topic for another day.

As we have seen football stadiums do fill up to capacity with hundreds of fans not wearing masks. It seems public gatherings are literally back to the pre-Covid era.

So could the good vaccination status have been giving a false sense of security? This brings us to the next food for thought.

2. COULD IT BE DUE TO THE CHOICE OF VACCINE?

Certain scientists think the choice of vaccine also could have an effect. The main vaccine of choice in the UK has been the Oxford AstraZeneca which was made at the time when there was a different variant – the Alpha variant.

At the moment the dominant variant in the UK is the Delta variant. In comparison with the US which has used primarily Pfizer and Moderna, there is a discussion on the possibility of vaccine protection waning off especially that the UK was one of the first to start the vaccine rollout in the world, somewhere in December of last year.

There is an ongoing debate for vaccine booster shots in the UK though most of the public seems not to be in favour of this. So far only about 40 percent of those eligible for the booster shots have gotten the jab.

3. COULD IT BE DUE THE NEW DELTA PLUS?

The UK has detected a new variant, a subtype of the Delta variant they call it Delta plus denoted as AY 4.2. It is said to be responsible for about 10 percent of recent cases in the country.

As of October 18, the UK Scientists had sequenced 14, 247 of the new variant from collected samples. It is not yet a variant of concern (VOC) or variant under investigation (VUI) although scientists are saying we must look out for it as it may just be.

The variant has also been detected in the US, Denmark, Canada and in Israel where all the 10 cases in the country are said to be from people who came from the US.

THE MUTATIONS

The mutations on the Delta plus are also on the famous or rather infamous “spike protein.” This is the infectious part of the coronavirus and it is also the target for most vaccines.

The notable mutations are Y145H and A222V. Y is amino acid Tyrosine while H is Histidine, so Y245H means tyrosine is replaced by histidine on position number 145 of the spike protein chain.

And similarly A is for amino acid Alanine while V is for Valine, therefore A222V simply means alanine is replaced by valine on position 222 of the spike protein chain.

The Delta plus may have caused some cases but scientist don’t really think it is behind the current surge in UK. It is worth observing.

MOROCCO BANS FLIGHTS FROM UK, GERMANY AND THE NETHERLANDS.

Morocco happens to be one of the countries to take measures against the seeming Covid-19 ticking time bomb in Europe. The country has banned flights to and fro UK, Germany and Netherlands.

THE GUARDIAN REPORTS:

“Morocco is banning flights to and from the UK because of rising coronavirus case rates. Airlines cancelled several flights between the countries on Wednesday before the suspension comes into effect at 23:59 hours.

Latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show the North African country’s weekly rate of reported coronavirus cases on October 14 stood at 10.4 per 100, 000 people. The UK’s comparable rate is 445.5.

Easy jet cancelled two flights from Gatwick and Manchester to Marrakech on Wednesday, but will operate flights in the opposite direction to bring passengers back to the UK before the ban comes into force. “We are still awaiting clarity from the Moroccan authorities as to whether we are permitted to operate repatriation flights beyond midnight today,” the airline said.

British Airways cancelled flights between Heathrow and Marrakech, which were due to resume on Thursday after being suspended because of the pandemic. The flight ban will affect families in England and Wales who booked half-term holidays in Morocco for next week.

Morocco’s national office of airports said the policy would remain in place “until further notice.”

WINTER WILL TELL HOW CASES TURN OUT

Although Covid-19 unlike the common cold is not necessarily a seasonal disease, it has caused havocs in both hot and cold climates. For instance India had its worst cases when it was hot, so had Brazil and some parts of Europe.

However in some countries there seems to be a period of the year when there is a spike in cases. In the UK and most of Europe cases tend to go up in winter and there are a lot of factors that could explain this including human behaviour and general state of peoples’ health and immune system during these times.

Let’s see how this winter turns out and especially whether the Delta plus will gain dominance or not.

WE NEED TO BE ON THE LOOK OUT

Covid-19 is very costly, it takes all our time (especially us the Frontliners), it takes our energy, it takes up resources and tragically even eternally takes away precious lives.

It is one disease we should never take lightly no matter what the situation may seem like. We need to ever be on the lookout. We are a global village such that when there is a spike somewhere we should be rest assured that it could easily reach everywhere.

As long as there are pockets of Covid-19 somewhere then simply put, the pandemic is not over.

I hope we are past those days of people gasping for air because “they can’t breathe.” I hope we will stay vigilant both at personal and national level.

Please let us keep our eyes and ears open because the next spike might just be a flight away.

ONE ZAMBIA, ONE NATION. UNTIL THEN, ALUTA CONTINUA.

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