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UK warns citizens to ‘think again’ before leaving homes amid cases of South African covid-19 variant

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Just when you think 2021 may offer a glimmer of hope over 2020, especially with a COVID-19 vaccine campaign ramping up around the globe, there’s talk of a mutated South African strain of the coronavirus making vaccines less effective.

In the United Kingdom, citizens are being urged to “think again” about venturing outside the home.

In an interview Tuesday with Sky News, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said people in the areas identified as having confirmed cases of the mutated virus should refrain from activities currently permitted under lockdown rules.

“The message is ‘think again’ just before you go about activities,” Donelan said. “Even for those activities that are within the rules such as essential shopping.”

“Do you really need to go for that shopping or have you got enough in?” she added. “Could you work from home? Could you have that conversation with your employer? It’s about reinforcing the rules that are in place.”

Much like the world heard early on in 2020, Donelan said folks need to hang in there just a little longer.

“We’re at that final hurdle, but it’s still a very perilous stage of this virus and we’ve got these new variants spreading,” she said. “So we do have to be extra vigilant and really abide by those rules to the letter of them, and also contemplate every action and activity that we do.”

The Daily Mail reported that a Kent Covid variant “has started to mutate further to become more like the one that evolved in South Africa in what scientists have dubbed a ‘worrying development’ that could make vaccines less effective.”

“And this mutation has now been found at least 11 times in different cases of people infected with the Kent variant, Public Health England revealed, raising fears it could become a permanent feature of the British strain,” the tabloid added.

The eleven people reportedly have no history of international travel.

The Prime Minister’s office put out a foreboding video recently urging Brits to stay home and “save lives.”

Last Monday, President Joe Biden enacted a ban on most non-U.S. citizens traveling from South Africa, CNBC reported. Biden also extended travel restrictions for Europe, the U.K. and Brazil, as new strains of the coronavirus are identified.

The moves reverse former President Donald Trump rescinding travel bans from the U.K., Brazil and many European countries.

Oddly, the media did not slam Biden as a racist, bigot, or nativist, as they did Trump.

On that note, here’s a quick sampling of online responses to the story, beginning with why is it okay to say “South African variant,” but not “Chinese virus.”

Tom Tillison

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