Authorities say new U.K. strain has possibly been in the U.S. since Sept.


U.S. officials suspect the new super-contagious mutant variant of the virus known as VUI-202012/01 could have reached the country weeks ago. 

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, Brett Giroir, said that “the new strain was first identified in September. So there’s been a lot of travel back and forth. In general, the typical tests that we do to detect the virus, except for a very specific one, would not show this variant,” 

Uncertainties continue to multiply for policy makers. 

On one hand, they need citizens to return to work, families to be reunified, and businesses to be open. 

On the other, they also need to protect their citizens and avoid over-straining the already overwhelmed American health care system. 

Consequently, the possibility of ban travel commercial flights from the U.K. is not ruled out yet. 

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will discuss it over the next hours. 

“I think everything is possible. We just need to put everything on the table, have an open scientific discussion and make the best recommendation,” the Assistant Secretary told local news. 

Merkel (r), Macron (c) and Sánchez (l) / AFP

The initial response of E.U. nations to the news of the mutant train of COVID-19 was to ban air traffic operations with the UK.  

For the EU, this was meant to be a contingency measure and, as of now, EU ambassadors discuss the best course of action forward. 

The decisions made in this summit may very well influence how other countries, including the US, choose to manage this pressing issue.

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, has taken the lead by calling for a travel ban on flights from Europe and the UK to avoid a far worse spread of the virus in the city. 

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, had expressed similar views over the weekend. 

On Monday, he also announced that British Airlines and Delta are now planning to test all passengers arriving in NY.

Cover image – Brett Giroir. /AP