New coronavirus variant 'less easy to control through lockdown'

According to an infectious disease expert, the new Covid variant will be more difficult to control by locking compared to the old variant.

Professor Mark Woolhouse said people should temper expectations about the effects of the current lockdown.

He said it would be a good result just to keep the situation from getting worse.

There are various lockdown measures in place across the UK to combat the further spread of the new, more infectious strain of the virus.

Prof Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said it was too early to say what the impact the new measures will have.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “It should be about a week before we see the immediate impact on the cases. We need to be careful here and ease expectations.

“The new variant will not be as easy to control as the old variant that was controlled by the lock in March. So we have to wait and see if it really is a decrease in the number of cases, or just to make the situation worse, to keep it from increasing further, and that would be a good result at this point.

“The epidemiologists have two opinions. Some people say that school dropouts will reduce the number of cases, but some have said that the Christmas holidays will have increased them, so I’m afraid we’ll have to wait a few weeks before we clearly know what the trends are.

“What we have to be prepared for, as Nicola Sturgeon said, is the fact that it will take some time.”

Professor Woolhouse, a member of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group, said the vaccines are the “light at the end of the tunnel” and that once the most vulnerable people are protected, the chances of people ending up in hospital will be reduced.

When asked when the lockdown restrictions could be relaxed, he said there will be some opportunity for restrictions to be relaxed in the next few months, but added, “I don’t think anyone should expect a full return to normal for some time . “

UK chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that some restrictions may have to be reintroduced next winter to combat the virus.

Professor Woolhouse said this was “pessimistic” but described it as a “plausible scenario”.

He said, “Right now there is no prospect of this virus going away at all, so we have to learn to live with it.”

“I very much hope they are not lockdown-type social distancing restrictions, they don’t have to be.

“Testing, mass testing, testing and tracking, case isolation, hygiene, social distancing when we meet, it all helps. I hope that will be enough for the next winter. “

Strict coronavirus restrictions are currently in place across the UK. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon imposed a ban on Scotland for the remainder of January, with a legal requirement to stay home and schools closed to most students until February.

The regulations to enforce a national lockdown in England went into effect on Wednesday at 12:01 p.m. All schools were closed to most of the students and people were told to stay at home.

Schools and colleges in Wales will be closed until at least January 18 and switch to online learning. The country is on Alert 4, which means people should stay home, avoid mingling with other households, and not travel without a reasonable excuse.

And in Northern Ireland, which has already been locked down for six weeks, home restrictions will be reinstated and distance learning time for school children will be extended.

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