The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus takes part in a press conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019) in Geneva.
Denis Balibouse | Reuters
New, more contagious mutated variants of the coronavirus are “very problematic” and could cause more cases and hospital stays if the spread of the virus is not suppressed immediately, the World Health Organization head said Monday.
The global health authority was briefed on a new strain of Covid-19 discovered in Japan over the weekend, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference. On Sunday, the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced that it had discovered a new variant of the coronavirus in four travelers arriving from Brazil.
The variant appears to have some of the same mutations as other strains discovered in the UK and South Africa, according to the institute. While these virus mutations are highly contagious, people don’t seem to get the virus, according to health experts.
Japan’s Infectious Diseases Institute said it was difficult to immediately determine how contagious the new strain is and how effective vaccines are against it.
As viruses spread, they are expected to mutate over time as the peaks on their surfaces change, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the CDC warns that it is not yet known how widespread the new mutations are.
“The further the virus spreads, the higher the likelihood of new changes in the virus,” Tedros said at WHO headquarters in Geneva, noting that the new variants appear to be more contagious than previous strains.
‘This can lead to an increase in cases and hospitalizations, which is extremely problematic for health professionals and hospitals already near the breaking point, especially when public health and social health policies have already collapsed are, “said Tedros.
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