COVID-19 government adviser: New UK viral strain not found in Estonia yet

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Professor Irja Lutsar. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Head of the government's coronavirus scientific council Professor Irja Lutsar says a new, more potent viral strain detected in the United Kingdom has not found its way to Estonia as yet.

"Our data shows that it has not yet reached Estonia," Lutsar told ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Sunday night.

However, local strains of the virus, which number in the hundreds or more, have largely not been mapped in Estonia, Lutsar added.

Lutsar said that while over 300 COVID-19 strains have been mapped out in Estonia, the figure only represents around one percent of the total in the country.

Lutsar said: "Denmark has 20 percent of its strains sequenced, but we don't sequence very much."

Recent reports of a more aggressive strain of the virus found in the U.K. has led to several European nations halting flight links with that country – including Estonia, which made the announcement Sunday night and is acting together with Latvia and Lithuania.

France is also barring most freight transit to and from the U.K.

London and the Southeast of England is on "tier four" lock down, meaning residents cannot leave the region, and those from other regions cannot enter.

The newest variation is much more contagious than other strains found so far, according to media reports, though mortality rates and the effectiveness of new vaccines are not affected, according to evidence uncovered so far, Lutsar went on.

"It is not possible to say right now what is happening with this new strain. Data is missing, and that which exists only emerged in the past few days," she added.

The new mutated form of the coronavirus discovered in the U.K. has spread rapidly in southeastern England and is thought to be more infectious than other strains, the BBC reports.

The first COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Estonia on December 27.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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