New York City’s mayor, Bill De Blasio, has called for a full travel ban on the United Kingdom in light of a new, more transmissible, coronavirus variant that continues to spread through the country.
The first case of the UK variant, which scientists have said is up to 70 per more transmissible, has been detected in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday.
In response Mr De Blasio has urged federal officials to impose a travel ban for those coming into the US from the UK, saying: “It is time to stop the half measures”.
“We all should be worried about this. Thank God, not because it’s more deadly, but because it does spread, unfortunately, even faster,” Mr de Blasio said on Tuesday during a news conference.
“We need the federal government to step up here and ban all travel from the United Kingdom to the United States of America.”
The variant was found in a man in his 60s in Saratoga County who had not travelled, Gov Cuomo confirmed in a press conference on Monday, saying he thinks the variant is “much more widespread” than previously believed.
The state, which became the epicentre of the virus at the outset of the pandemic in March, is experiencing another worrying surge in cases across the winter months.
Over one million people have tested positive for the virus in the state, leading to more than 38,000 deaths.
“If we don’t have a total ban, then we are literally inviting this horrible variant in the door even more, and that makes no sense,” Mr de Blasio said.
While the variant is more contagious than other strains of the virus, it is not believed to be more lethal or resistant to current Covid-19 vaccine efforts.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Newsweek on Tuesday that he would be “surprised” if the variant is not “more widespread in the United States than we are currently detecting it to be”.
“I was saying that I’m certain it’s here, we just haven’t detected it yet. And I think it’s pretty clear that if it’s in places like California, and New York and Colorado … that pretty soon it’s going to be in several more states,” he told the website.
Across the US, more than 21.1 million people have tested positive for the novel disease, leading to the deaths of over 357,000.