“Nevertheless, now is not the time to relax. An aggressive strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus (B.1.1.7, also known as VOC 202012/01 and 20B / 501Y.V1) is spreading in the United Kingdom and Ireland. According to two independent UK epidemiological groups (LSHTM and Imperial College), B.1.1.7 is spreading much faster than previously prevalent variants of the virus in Europe. It is estimated that one hundred people with B.1.1.7 will infect 140-170 other people, even under the same quarantine conditions, with only a hundred others infected with older strains.
While there is no evidence that individuals infected with B.1.1.7 become more severely ill, the rapid spread of the virus alone is a huge problem. There is a heated debate about whether the new variety is spreading faster among children. The UK government, reluctantly paying a huge price for both financial and political capital, was reluctantly forced to break a promise and close schools. And not just schools: the spread of a new strain, the British rushing through their heads to vaccinate the country, sometimes making rather controversial decisions, such as vaccinating with a single dose of vaccine to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. As a result of B.1.1.7, Christmas has been “canceled” in many parts of the United Kingdom and a new level of Tier 4 restrictions has been introduced. Nevertheless, the number of patients staying in London hospitals exceeds the spring peak, some ambulances are driven by firefighters and police due to the extremely high number of calls, and some hospitals have overloaded oxygen supply systems, ”he writes.
Quarantine would have to be further tightened and any opening of schools in the coming months (and maybe even until next summer) will be forgotten.
According to the scientist, it is almost certain that a new strain of the virus has already been introduced to Lithuania. With a few per cent of the UK and Irish population, some of them asymptomatic, it would be a real miracle if no 180-seat Boeing 737-800 or Airbus 320 aircraft had flown at least one B.1.1.7-infected passenger. Fortunately, he writes, so far variety B.1.1.7 has never been found in Lithuania, and it seems that it is not yet widespread.
“It simply came to our notice then. If large quantities of B.1.1.7 were to enter Lithuania, the scale of the epidemic would start to grow rapidly again (I), quarantine would have to be further tightened and any opening of schools in the coming months (and maybe even until next summer) could be forgotten.
The Government of the Republic of Lithuania made the right decision by introducing compulsory insulation for all those coming from the United Kingdom and thus the country won at least a few weeks of time (II). However, this may not be enough for several reasons. First, it is not clear how “hermetic” the quarantine of arrivals is. It is not for nothing that Australia forces quarantines in hotels or other quarantine facilities that make it easier to control guests in one place. Secondly, with the spread of the B.1.1.7 strain in other countries, the virus can reach Lithuania through the environment. In recent weeks, B.1.1.7 has also begun to spread outside the United Kingdom. For example, in Ireland, where the incidence of Covid-19 is highest in Europe, B.1.1.7 cases already account for a quarter of all infections (III). Isolation from Lithuania is not mandatory for those coming to Lithuania, as Ireland is not included in the list of affected countries. It seems that a new strain of the virus has already been found in neighboring Latvia and many other countries (USA, France, Denmark, etc.)
B.1.1.7 is not the only problematic fast-spreading strain of SARS-CoV-2. Recently, the South African variety B.1.351 (aka 501Y.V2) has begun to spread around the world. Although, unlike in the case of B.1.1.7, when British scientists provided information for world consumption for free on a plate served with a garnish, not so much is known about the rate of spread of B.1.351. Still, the variety seems to be spreading very fast in South Africa. The UK Minister for Health has said that B.1.351 is even more concerned about South Africa than B.1.1.7.
It is now crucial to finally ensure the ‘hermetic’ isolation (IV) of almost all newcomers, following the example of the countries that are best able to deal with a pandemic. Testing is necessary both before leaving and upon arrival in Lithuania. This can be a much cheaper option than the long months spent in strict quarantine.
In Lithuania, it has already become a bad habit to wait for an open flame to extinguish a house before attacking it. Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to install a fire alarm and install a fire door. And let’s not forget that the material you have to put out this time is very flammable. It may be necessary to pour the premises heavily and for a long time, ”writes A. Gruslys
He goes on to say: “Overall, firefighting is a good analogy to illustrate the current situation and the ongoing debate.
The neighbors’ house is on fire. Suddenly a flame flashed, and a fire erupted through the roof and windows. Neighbors scream loudly:
“People, we spilled gas on the floor, and a fire burned the whole house. Gasoline is a flammable substance. Be careful! ”.
Meanwhile, in the garage of a Lithuanian house, stacked tires are burning with black smoke. The house was already badly burned, but thanks to great efforts, the fire had already been extinguished. Residents of the house have long debated whether it is worth paying attention to “paranoid” neighbors. Some say gasoline has not yet been conclusively proven to be flammable. Neighbors have not yet published an article in the journal Nature. The opinions of two independent fire-fighting teams are not yet enough. The second says, “What do those of our neighbors know about gasoline – if they knew, their own house would not burn.” The third adds: “What a difference, there is oil in the kitchen and our tires are burning in the garage; several canisters will not make gasoline worse. ”A fourth says,“ It is best to fight fire with fire; those who allowed their homes to burn in the spring have now gained immunity, and their homes will no longer burn. ”
Fortunately, after a long debate, it was at least possible to negotiate that at least part of the gasoline should not be stored in the garage, but in a warehouse near the house. True, the canisters are rusty. The house is on fire. The debate continues: what is the minimum safe distance to the depot so that there is no need to go far if fuel is needed? Is a study already published, or better yet, a meta-study on the subject? Has it been firmly and indisputably proven by science that a distance of 4 meters to the house is safer than a distance of 3 meters? Because if not proven, then 3 meters will be enough. And finally, from which countries does imported gasoline need to be carried to the warehouse? Watts, English petrol needs to be put in storage, and Irish can be carried straight to the garage. Australians, meanwhile, are cautious and store gasoline in underground storage. ”
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