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Covid UK: Travel to South America banned due to congestion in Brazil


Ministers have come under fire from MPs who wanted to know why a travel ban to South America and Portugal was only announced tonight, despite scientists having warned for days about Brazil's super-Covid pollution.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said tonight that all travelers from South America, Panama and Cape Verde and Portugal will be banned from 4 a.m. tomorrow.

No one who has been to any of the listed countries in the past 10 days will be granted entry except for UK and Irish nationals who are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

Mr. Shapps tweeted: "I have met the urgent decision ARRIVALS from ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, BOLIVIA, CAPE VERDE, CHILE, COLOMBIA, ECUADOR, FRENCH GUIANA, GUYANA, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, SURINAME, URUGUAYAUENUYRUYAUENUUYRUYAUENYAUENUAYUENUAUYRUYRAUYRAUYRAUYAUUUYYUENUAUYRUYAUUUUYYUENUAUYUAUYUAUYAUYUAUYUAUYA 15 January to 4 In the morning after the detection of a new variant in Brazil. & # 39;

He added: “The trip from PORTUGAL to the UK will also be suspended due to the close links with Brazil. This is another way to reduce the risk of importing infections.

"However, there is an exception for freight forwarders who (only) come from Portugal to enable the transport of essential goods."

The Transport Minister also said Chile, Madeira and the Azores would also be removed from the list of travel corridors for countries where British arrivals are required to self-isolate for up to 10 days on their return.

Lib Dem MP and Party Transport spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: “Once again, the Conservatives seem to have missed the opportunity to contain the spread of Covid-19.

& # 39; You have delayed measures to reduce travel between the UK and South America and are risking the arrival of the new variant. Brazil has already suspended flights from the UK arriving there. & # 39;

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's main scientific adviser, said it was possible that the Brazilian variant of Covid could affect the effectiveness of vaccines.

He said he thought it was unlikely that the mutated strain of the virus evolved to defeat the immune system, but "we don't know for sure".

The curbs approved by the Covid O Cabinet subcommittee reflect the tightened rules that have been introduced for South Africa due to its mutated Covid tribe.

Travelers told MailOnline they were allowed to fly to the UK via Portugal without being checked for Covid-19. Ana Lellis, 27, said she was surprised because people in Brazil "are still partying and everything is open". She was tested for coronavirus as it was a requirement from TAP Air Portugal, however this was not checked when she landed in London.

Boris Johnson yesterday admitted officials were "concerned" about the variant, claiming the government is "taking steps" to ensure it does not spread to the UK.

Brazil has already banned travelers from Great Britain from December 25th because of the variant created here. The airlines seem to have taken matters into their own hands. All five flights between Brazil and Heathrow were canceled and none of the other UK airports fell due.

Public Health England (PHE) said it hasn't picked up any cases of the variant, but it wouldn't rule out it is already in the UK. An expert told MailOnline that it was "quite possible" that it had already spread here, but probably not in large numbers.

Variants can generally only be recorded by detailed examination of randomly selected test samples. So don't show up until they're already widespread. The South African variant, for example, cannot be distinguished from others solely in the test results.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said he was taking hold

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was taking "urgent" measures to prevent the mutated version from reaching the UK

Barbra and John Santos

Paula Gamini

The Brazilians arrive at Heathrow today ahead of tomorrow's travel ban: Barbra and John Santos (left) and Paula Gamini

Ministers sign the ban on direct flights from South America to prevent the mutant tribe from entering the UK

Ministers sign the ban on direct flights from South America to prevent the mutant tribe from entering the UK

Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific advisor to the UK government, said he could not rule out the possibility that the Brazilian variant might have evolved to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines

Boris Johnson said he was "concerned" about the new variant

Sir Patrick Vallance (left), chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said he could not rule out the possibility that the Brazilian variant might have developed to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. Boris Johnson (right) said he was "concerned" about the new variant

Deaths and cases have increased alarmingly in many restricted countries, with indications that the mutant strain is responsible

Deaths and cases have increased alarmingly in many restricted countries, with indications that the mutant strain is responsible

Pictured: A gravedigger works in the Parque Taruma cemetery during the coronavirus outbreak in Manaus, Brazil, in December

Pictured: A gravedigger works in the Parque Taruma cemetery during the coronavirus outbreak in Manaus, Brazil, in December

Chaos at the border: travelers from South Africa enter uncontrolled as ministers postpone the new negative test rule until MONDAY

The UK's border defense against coronavirus was rated as an "absolute joke" today as MailOnline was able to reveal a traveler from variant-stricken South Africa who left Heathrow unchecked after ministers forced people to test negative for Covid-19 received before entering the UK by Monday.

Sean Meade told MailOnline that he had a Covid test on Monday in Durban, South Africa, and had a copy of his negative result with him, in the expectation that he would be asked about it when he arrived at Heathrow via Paris because he was out a country with a dangerous variant of the virus.

It came as a minister to postpone their plan for stricter border controls in confusion.

The government was preparing to enforce a stricter regime that would require testing 72 hours before departure at 4 a.m. on Friday. However, this has been postponed to Monday.

In a tweet at 11 p.m., Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps wrote: "To give international arrivals time to prepare, passengers will need to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test before leaving for England on January 18 at 4 a.m."

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the situation was "utter chaos".

"The government has been lacking a comprehensive airport testing policy with this pandemic and now it is in complete chaos," he said.

"Making statements in the middle of the night poses ever greater challenges for travelers and industry because their proposals are unfeasible."

Experts and politicians have feared that the mutations in Kent and South Africa – which are very similar to the Brazilian tribe – could affect the effectiveness of vaccines. Sir Patrick announced last night that SAGE doesn't know whether pushes against the variant will work or not.

However, top scientists studying the constantly mutating SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 insist that the jolts currently being introduced are "likely still effective."

Pfizer has already tested its own vaccine against the variants found in Kent and South Africa, and stated that the bite seemed to work just as well despite the mutations.

The mutated variant of the coronavirus was discovered last week in Japan in four people who had arrived on a flight from Brazil. It was first discovered in Brazil in October, where cases are increasing rapidly.

If the Brazilian variant turns out to be significantly different from others already in the UK, it could pose further barriers to the normalization of life.

There is no evidence that the variant is already in the UK, but it is "entirely possible," said Dr. Simon Clarke, microbiologist at the University of Reading.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, told ITV's Peston Show that there was no evidence that any of the variants resulted in a more severe illness.

He said, “There is no evidence that any of these variants make the disease more severe.

& # 39; So the changes that we see in the variants mainly concern an increased transmission.

& # 39; (There is) no evidence yet for the UK version that it makes a difference how the immune system recognizes it and if you've been exposed to the old variant or had a vaccine it looks like it will work Work just as well with this new variant for the UK.

“The South African and the Brazilian, we don't really know. There's a slightly greater risk that this will change the way the immune system recognizes this, but we don't know. These experiments are ongoing. & # 39;

There are dozens of different variations of the coronavirus circulating in the UK, but most cases are caused by a few dominant people – the main infection, which accounts for around two-thirds of infections, is now the one that occurred in Kent. Around 30 cases of the South African variant have been discovered in the UK, researchers said this week.

Dr. Clarke told MailOnline, "If it's here, then I don't expect it to be here in large quantities since every tenth virus isolated (found in tests) is sequenced. If there had been a significant amount here, it would have been picked up by now.

& # 39; But it could be here; People flown in from Brazil, people come in from other countries, and it's probably pretty common in South America. & # 39;

Amid a dispute over the government's response to the recent strain, MPs yesterday accused the Prime Minister of not tightening Britain's borders fast enough.

MPs also questioned why new rules requiring all travelers to test negative before entering the UK are not being introduced until ten months after the pandemic has started. Other countries have had similar rules for months.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced last night that it would be postponed until Monday to give people "time to prepare".

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced last night that it would be postponed until Monday to give people "time to prepare".

In a round of interviews this morning, Home Secretary Victoria Atkins suggested that the government try to reconcile “economic” factors with health protection

In a round of interviews this morning, Home Secretary Victoria Atkins suggested that the government try to reconcile “economic” factors with health protection

When asked why the air corridor between Brazil and parts of South America to the UK has not yet been closed, Home Secretary Victoria Atkins said, "Of course, people flying into the UK from South America or elsewhere must have a 10 – quarantine period when they land in the UK. It is mandatory.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE BRAZIL VARIANT?

Surname: B.1.1.248 or P.1

Date: Discovered in Tokyo, Japan by four travelers arriving from Manaus, Brazil on January 2nd.

Is it in the uk? Public health officials and scientists randomly survey around 1 in 10 coronavirus cases in the UK and have not yet reported any B.1.1.248 cases, but this does not rule this out entirely.

Why should we care? The variant has the same spike protein mutation as the highly transmissible versions known as N501Y found in Kent and South Africa, which enables the spike to bind better to receptors in the body.

It has a third, less well-studied mutation called K417T, and the effects of that are still being researched.

What are the mutations doing?

The N501Y Mutation allows the spike protein to bind better to receptors in people's bodies, making the virus more contagious.

Exactly how much more contagious it is remains to be seen, but scientists estimate that the similar-looking variant is 56 percent more transmissible in the UK than its predecessor.

Even if the virus doesn't appear to be more dangerous, its ability to spread faster and cause more infections inevitably translates into a higher death rate.

Another key mutation in the variant, called E484K, is also on the spike protein and is available in the South African variant.

E484K may be linked to the ability to evade parts of the immune system called antibodies, researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said in a scientific article published online.

However, there are several immune cells and substances that are involved in destroying the coronavirus when it enters the body, so it may not make a difference in the way people become infected or recover.

Will our vaccines still protect us?

There is no reason to believe that Covid vaccines that have already been developed do not protect against the variant.

The most important and important change in this version of the virus is the N501Y mutation.

Pfizer, the company that made the first vaccine approved for public use in the UK, specifically tested its sting for viruses carrying this mutation in a laboratory after the variants emerged in the UK and South Africa.

They found that the vaccine worked just as well as other variants and could ignore the change.

And since the South African variant carries another of the major mutations of the Brazilian strain (E484K) and the Pfizer shock also worked against it, it is likely that the new mutation will not affect the vaccines.

The immunity developed by different types of vaccines is broadly similar. If one of them can act against it, so should the others.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, said: "Vaccines are likely still effective as a control measure when coverage rates are high and transmission is limited as much as possible."

& # 39; In terms of travel policy decision, it takes a little time.

“We need to make sure we have a little time to let this bed in as we make these very, very important decisions that have a huge impact on people's private lives, but also on businesses.

"It was clear to the Prime Minister that action would be taken. We have acted decisively in the past with both the Danish and the South African variants, so I don't want to speculate any further at this point."

The requirement that all international passengers coming to the UK have a negative Covid-19 test should come into effect tomorrow.

Passengers – including returning Brits – must be given a test within 72 hours of departure.

Border guards do spot checks and anyone who breaks the rules is fined £ 500.

When Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted after 11pm last night, he said the testing was being delayed.

"In order to give international arrivals time to prepare for passengers, a negative COVID-19 test must be demonstrated prior to departure for England starting January 18 at 4am," he said.

In addition to the confusion, Mr Shapps added a calendar emoji showing the 17th.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the situation was "utter chaos".

"The government has been lacking a comprehensive airport testing policy with this pandemic and now it is in complete chaos," he said.

“Making declarations in the middle of the night poses ever greater challenges for travelers and the industry because their suggestions cannot be implemented.

& # 39; This chronic failure also puts us at risk again from stresses like those that occurred in South Africa and Brazil. As always, the ministers are too slow to act and this is a serious threat to the people. & # 39;

And Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the negative test requirement north of the border is already in place – even if it's due tomorrow.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast, he was asked what the Scottish position was like following news that the rules requiring travelers coming to England to test negative for coronavirus have been delayed.

He said: "The position in Scotland is that these restrictions exist and we want people to follow these restrictions to make sure we minimize the risk."

When asked, “So you need to take a test before you go to Scotland?” He replied “Yes” and agreed that the restrictions now apply.

Home Affairs Chairwoman and Labor MP Yvette Cooper upset Mr Johnson yesterday for not acting fast enough.

At the liaison committee hearing, she wanted to know why the UK borders were not immediately closed to travelers from Brazil after warnings about the new variety.

She asked him: "Why don't you take precautionary measures immediately?"

Ms. Cooper also criticized the quarantine system as "so much weaker" than measures in dozens of other countries that include rigorous border testing.

She said it meant that comers were allowed to board public transport to go where they would self-isolate after landing, with few checks to see if people were in quarantine.

Ms. Cooper added, "You give the impression every time that you are postponing all difficult and uncomfortable decisions until the last minute and with so many lives at stake Prime Minister, is this the guidance we really need?"

Mr Johnson claimed that "large numbers of checks" are being done to see if people are self-isolating.

It is understood that ministers today will consider banning flights and visitors entirely for all of South America in order to tackle the Brazilian variant. Pictured: Guarulhos, Sao Paulo

It is understood that ministers today will consider banning flights and visitors entirely for all of South America in order to tackle the Brazilian variant. Pictured: Guarulhos, Sao Paulo

All three mutant versions of the coronavirus found in the past few weeks - those from Kent, South Africa and Brazil - had an alteration in the spike protein of the virus called N501Y, which scientists say is better able to attach to the body and spread

All three mutant versions of the coronavirus found in the past few weeks – those from Kent, South Africa and Brazil – had an alteration in the virus' spike protein called N501Y, which scientists say is better able to attach to the body and spread

The Prime Minister said: & # 39; We are concerned about the new Brazilian variant.

“We have already taken strict measures to protect this country from new infections from abroad. We are taking steps to do this in relation to the Brazilian variant. & # 39;

He added: "There are still many questions about this variant, for example we don't know any more than we know whether the South African variant is vaccine resistant."

Dr. Simon Clarke said it was not clear how the mutations in the Brazilian strain would change the virus, but they could be compared to those in the Kent and South Africa variants.

He said, “We know where the mutations are. I think it's fair to say that we don't have a good picture of how easily it spreads or how quickly it spreads.

& # 39; Some of the changes, not all, involve the spike protein. The only thing we have good data on in terms of ability to spread is the Kent strain.

& # 39; The changes at the top mean it could make it harder for antibodies to bind. If there is an effect, and it's a big if, I would assume that it would diminish your (vaccine) effectiveness, it wouldn't cancel it, it wouldn't make it useless, but it might not be effective. & # 39;

What were the travel ban rules for South Africa?

Visitors who come to England and have been in South Africa in the past 10 days or have traveled through South Africa are not allowed in and direct flights are prohibited.

British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents traveling from South Africa are allowed to enter but must self-isolate with their household for 10 days

The ban excludes cargo and cargo without passengers

Usually applicable exceptions – including for employment-related exceptions – do not apply

People who, on their return from South Africa, share a household with someone who is self-isolating must now also self-isolate until 10 days have passed since someone they live with was last in South Africa

The Home Office will step up the Border Force presence to ensure those coming to England from South Africa comply with the new restrictions

It is not yet known if the Brazilian strain is found in the UK. Brazil had one of the world's highest death tolls from Covid – 205,000.

The SAGE subgroup NERVTAG discussed the issue on Tuesday.

Brazil has already banned flights from the UK in the wake of the pandemic, so the new move would be a reciprocal one, although it is unlikely to affect many people.

In 2019 there were around 290,000 visits to the UK from people from Brazil. However, there are currently no direct flights from Brazil to the UK, according to Scanner.

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Commons that a new sting could be made in 30 to 40 days if a variant of the virus is found to be less responsive to the ones available.

The Department of Transportation released a fine print of the rules that require all passengers entering the UK not to show a negative test until late at night – just before they are supposed to board.

However, they will not be enforced until Monday, as a "grace period" has been set following a backlash from the travel industry.

Before the delay was announced, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, Chair of the Airport Operators Association said, “It is terrible.

“We have to support travelers who are faced with the problem of having to come home.

"The industry wants to be the safest way to get home, but they need this guide and the details in a timely manner."

Paul Charles, executive director of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “There is not enough clarity about the nature of the tests allowed that consumers are panicking about whether they will be allowed into the country without a fine for having the wrong documentation . Guidelines for the hoof never work. & # 39;

It is estimated that up to 100,000 Britons are abroad. Many left in mid-December before the third lockdown.

Experts asked last night why the UK had not run tests at the border, even though dozens of countries around the world had been doing so for months.

Professor Lawrence Young, a molecular oncologist at the University of Warwick, said, “You could say it's too little, too late. We should have done this ages ago.

“If you look at where successful return locks have taken place, the people there have closed their borders. The horse ran away.

Travelers flew to the UK via Portugal without being screened for coronavirus

Noêmia Lellis, 23

Noêmia Lellis, 23

Travelers told MailOnline they would be allowed to fly to the UK via Portugal without being checked for Covid-19.

Ana Lellis, 27, said people in Brazil were "still partying and everything is open".

She was tested for coronavirus as it was a requirement from TAP Air Portugal, however this was not checked when she landed in London.

"I'm worried about the coronavirus in Brazil because people are still partying and everything is open," she said.

“There is a huge following of people who don't follow the rules. We had to have coronavirus tests as this is a requirement from TAP Air Portugal but it was not checked in London. We just picked up our bags and came out, they didn't even check our search form. & # 39;

Her 23-year-old sister Noemia said: “I am shocked that they have not carried out any checks on passengers who have recently returned from Brazil.

& # 39; There are no direct flights from the UK to Brazil anyway, so people who are still traveling through different countries.

& # 39; It makes sense to have fewer flights to avoid this spread, but we're happy to be able to return. It will cause trouble for many people, especially residents like us. & # 39;

“It's hard to understand why we haven't been stricter when it comes to international travel, and why we're doing testing now and not paying so much attention to it last March. Testing has to be a really important part of it. & # 39;

A spokesman for the Department of Transport told MailOnline: “As the Prime Minister said, we are aware of this new variant and are considering urgent measures to reduce the spread to the UK.

"Arrivals from Brazil have to self-isolate for 10 days or face a fine of £ 500 or more."

It's normal for viruses to mutate, and early signs don't suggest any of the new variants of the coronavirus is more deadly than others, but in some places it continues to evolve to allow it to spread faster.

If the virus spreads faster it inevitably leads to more cases, which in turn leads to a higher number of deaths, even if the strain itself is not more dangerous.

The variant that originated in Kent, which is now estimated to be 56 percent more transmissible than its predecessor, has quickly become the dominant form of the virus in England, resulting in the country's longest and toughest lockdown since March 2020.

There is no evidence that vaccines against this variant are less effective. Pfizer, maker of the first approved prick, tested it on similar variants in the UK and South Africa and said it still works just as well.

The mutated variant of the coronavirus was discovered last week in Japan in four people who had arrived on a flight from Brazil. It was first discovered in Brazil in October.

Scientists said it had similarities to the highly contagious varieties found in the UK and South Africa.

It has a genetic mutation called N501Y that changes the shape of the spike proteins on the outside of the virus.

This mutation allows the virus to bind better to the receptors in the body that it is targeting, which essentially means that it successfully overcomes the body's natural defenses more often.

As a result, people exposed to the virus are more likely to become infected than if the other person were infected with an older, less contagious strain.

A World Health Organization report on last week's variant said: & # 39; The variant was identified when full genome sequencing was carried out on samples from 4 travelers from Brazil that were tested at the airport …

& # 39; We are working with Japanese and Brazilian authorities through our regional offices to assess the importance of these findings.

& # 39; We are also working with our Viral Evolution working group to evaluate the importance of this variant. If these and other variants identified in the past few months lead to changes in the portability, clinical presentation, or severity, or affect countermeasures including diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. & # 39;

It added: 'The same comprehensive approach to controlling Covid-19 works against these variants.

"At the individual level, protective measures work for all identified variants: physical distancing, wearing a mask, good ventilation of the rooms, avoiding crowds, cleaning hands and coughing in a bent elbow or tissue."

It is too early in the discovery of the variant for politicians or scientists to be sure how the virus's changes will affect outbreaks.

Laboratory tests suggest that the N501Y mutation could improve transmittability – the British variant with the same change is estimated to be about 56 percent more infectious, but other changes to the virus can affect this as well.

Another key mutation in the variant called E484K, which is also on the spike protein, could be linked to the ability to evade parts of the immune system called antibodies, researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said in a published scientific Articles online.

However, there are several immune cells and substances that are involved in destroying the coronavirus when it enters the body, so it may not make a difference in the way people become infected or recover.

There is no reason to believe that Covid vaccines that have already been developed do not protect against the variant.

The most important and important change to this version of the virus is the N501Y mutation, which has been linked to faster transmission.

Pfizer, the company that made the first vaccine approved for public use in the UK, specifically tested its sting for viruses carrying this mutation in a laboratory after the variants emerged in the UK and South Africa.

They found that the vaccine worked just as well as other variants and could ignore the change.

And since the South African variant carries another of the major mutations of the Brazilian strain (E484K) and the Pfizer shock also worked against it, it is likely that the new mutation will not affect the vaccines.

This new variant (shown in light green) was first discovered in October in Brazil and accounted for a growing proportion of infections there in November

This new variant (shown in light green) was first discovered in October in Brazil and accounted for a growing proportion of infections there in November

The immunity developed by different types of vaccines is broadly similar. If one of them can act against it, so should the others.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, said: “The Brazilian variant has three key mutations in the spike receptor binding domain (RBD), which largely mirror some of the mutations we are concerned about in the South African variant Concern.

& # 39; SARS-CoV-2-RBD is one of the primary targets for our immune defenses, and so is the region vaccines target, and changes in that region are therefore of concern.

"Vaccines are still likely to be effective as a control measure when coverage rates are high and transmission is limited as much as possible."

The National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Japan said in its report that the people infected with the variant were found at the airport screening in Tokyo on Jan. 2.

They had traveled from Amazonas, a state in northern Brazil that is home to the city of Manaus, home to two million people, and the first place where the variant was found.

The Disease Institute (NIID) said: “Information on the variant isolate is limited to viral genome sequence data.

Further research is needed to assess the infectivity, pathogenicity and impact on laboratory diagnosis and vaccine effectiveness of this variant strain.

"NIID recommends that individuals infected with the variant isolate be monitored in an isolated room and that an active epidemiological investigation be initiated, including contact tracing (with source investigation) and clinical follow-up."

Ministers and experts have said that the recurrence of new variants is a warning sign that the coronavirus is often evolving and that some of the developments are significantly changing how the virus works.

Although the variants already discovered do not appear to make the virus any more deadly or have the ability to get past a vaccine, the more different variants there are, the more likely it is than that one mutation is a disaster.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, virologist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, told The Telegraph: “This variant is a wake-up call that we should try to really reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus). .

"It is clear that if you let the virus around it, it has the ability to outsmart us and improve the transmission and bypassing of the antibody response."

Brazil's Covid deaths return to their first wave peak of over 1,000 a day as a new "more infectious" strain that started in Amazon roams the country

By Rachel Bunyan for MailOnline and Matt Roper in Brazil

The Brazilian coronavirus outbreak is picking up again after another new and potentially more infectious strain of virus was identified in the country.

Daily deaths in the country rose more than 1,000 a day this week, roughly on par with the country's first wave this spring, after the country finally slashed the infection and death curves last year.

The new variant has been tracked to the country's coronavirus epicenter in Manaus, where it was hoped that herd immunity had previously been achieved.

This raises the worrying possibility that the new variant may re-infect survivors, and therefore possibly be resistant to vaccines, provided the Brazilian predictions for herd immunity estimates in Manaus were correct.

This week, Brazil recorded the highest daily average of Covid infections since the pandemic began, with an average of 54,784 confirmed cases per day – a 51 percent increase from two weeks ago.

Brazil has an average of 993 deaths a day this week, up 49 percent from two weeks ago.

Der neue brasilianische Coronavirus-Stamm ist der dritte, der weltweit Alarm ausgelöst hat, nachdem auch in Großbritannien und Südafrika infektiösere Varianten identifiziert wurden.

Die Zahl der Todesopfer steigt stetig - am Dienstag werden 1.110 Covid-19-Opfer registriert. Im Bild: Arbeiter begraben ein Opfer von Covid-10, während Verwandte in Manaus, Bundesstaat Amazonas, Brasilien, aus der Ferne zuschauen

Die Zahl der Todesopfer steigt stetig – am Dienstag werden 1.110 Covid-19-Opfer registriert. Im Bild: Arbeiter begraben ein Opfer von Covid-10, während Verwandte in Manaus, Bundesstaat Amazonas, Brasilien, aus der Ferne zuschauen

In Manaus im Nordwesten Brasiliens, wo im vergangenen April eindringliche Szenen von Massengräbern und Leichen in Kühlwagen zu sehen waren, steht das Gesundheitssystem kurz vor dem erneuten Zusammenbruch. Im Bild: Friedhofsarbeiter tragen die Überreste des 89-jährigen Abilio Ribeiro, der am 6. Januar in Manaus an dem neuen Coronavirus-Stamm gestorben ist

In Manaus im Nordwesten Brasiliens, wo im vergangenen April eindringliche Szenen von Massengräbern und Leichen in Kühlwagen zu sehen waren, steht das Gesundheitssystem kurz vor dem erneuten Zusammenbruch. Im Bild: Friedhofsarbeiter tragen die Überreste des 89-jährigen Abilio Ribeiro, der am 6. Januar in Manaus an dem neuen Coronavirus-Stamm gestorben ist

Die brasilianische Mutation wurde letzte Woche in Tokio erstmals bei vier Personen entdeckt, die auf einem Flug aus der Amazonas-Dschungelstadt Manaus angekommen waren.

Die Stadt gehörte zu den am stärksten betroffenen in Brasilien, wo der weltweit schlimmste Covid-Ausbruch außerhalb der USA oder Indiens stattfand. Es gab schockierende Szenen von Massengräbern im Amazonasgebiet und Kühlwagen voller Leichen.

Während der ersten Welle der Pandemie im vergangenen Jahr waren in der Stadt zwei Millionen Menschen so infiziert, dass einige Wissenschaftler glaubten, die Stadt könnte sich der Herdenimmunität nähern. Aber diese Projektion hat sich als weit von der Marke entfernt erwiesen.

Und das Fehlen einer Herdenimmunität in Manaus könnte durch einen von zwei Faktoren verursacht werden – entweder waren die Infektionsschätzungen beim ersten Mal falsch oder die neue Variante kann Menschen, die das Coronavirus bereits überlebt haben, erneut infizieren.

Dies hätte auch besorgniserregende Auswirkungen auf die Aussichten, dass der Stamm in der Lage ist, bestehenden Impfstoffen zu widerstehen.

Diese Woche kehrten schockierende Szenen nach Manaus zurück, als lokale Beamte davor warnten, dass das Gesundheitssystem wieder kurz vor dem Zusammenbruch steht.

Die Stadt mit zwei Millionen Einwohnern befindet sich seit sechs Monaten im Ausnahmezustand, da die Krankenhausaufenthalte die Werte der schlimmsten Tage des vergangenen Jahres überschritten haben.

In den Krankenhäusern ging diese Woche der Sauerstoff aus, und die brasilianischen Luftwaffenjets mussten neue Vorräte einfliegen.

Kühlwagen wurden erneut zur Lagerung von Karosserien eingesetzt, während in Eile Bauwerke für 22.000 Särge in horizontalen „Schubladen“ gebaut werden.

Manaus verzeichnete in der ersten Woche des Jahres 2021 mehr Krankenhausaufenthalte als im gesamten Dezember. Am vergangenen Samstag wurden 1.524 Personen ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert.

Die Stadt hat in dieser Woche jeden Tag mehr als 100 Bestattungen registriert, mit einem Rekord von 144 am Sonntag – die höchste Zahl seit Beginn der Pandemie.

Ein Gericht am Samstag zwang die Landesregierung, nicht wesentliche Unternehmen für 15 Tage zu schließen, da Infektionen und Todesfälle zunehmen.

Manaus, wo die in Japan entdeckte neue Mutation vermutlich ihren Ursprung hat, befindet sich seit sechs Monaten im Ausnahmezustand, da die Krankenhausaufenthalte die Werte der schlimmsten Tage des letzten Jahres überschritten haben. Pictured: A gravedigger works at Parque Taruma cemetary in Manaus

Manaus, where the new mutation detected in Japan is believed to have originated, has been placed in a state of emergency for six months as hospitalisations passed the levels seen in the worst days of last year. Pictured: A gravedigger works at Parque Taruma cemetary in Manaus

Meanwhile hospitals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have recently reported intensive care units more than 90 percent full.

The state of Amazonas, where nearly 6,000 people have died from Covid-19, is struggling to cope with the rising number of deaths.

Hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the state reached an occupancy rate of over 98% this week, according to data from the Amazonas state health department. Occupancy in temporary facilities that provide assistance to critical patients for later referral to other points of the health network was at 131 per cent.

A court on Saturday forced the state government to shut non-essential businesses for 15 days as infections and deaths surge.

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