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New coronavirus variant 'not out of control': WHO

Published: Updated:

The new coronavirus variant discovered in Britain with a higher transmission rate is not yet out of control, the World Health Organization said on Monday, urging measures to help stop its spread.

"In some senses it means we have to work harder. Even if the virus has become a little bit more efficient in spreading, the virus can be stopped," WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan said in a press conference.

"So this situation is not in that sense out of control. But it cannot be left to its own devices."

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British Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier claimed the new variant was "out of control", with British officials saying it was 70 percent more transmissible than the main strain.

"The measures we currently have in place are the correct measures," Ryan said.

"We need to do what we have been doing, we may just have to do it with a little more intensity and for a little longer to make sure we can bring this virus under control."

Roughly 30 countries shut their borders to people travelling from Britain or South Africa -- where another variant has emerged -- to stop any further spread.

"In some senses, it means we have to work harder," Ryan said. "Even if the virus has become a little bit more efficient in spreading, the virus can be stopped."

Read more:

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Coronavirus new mutation: More than 40 countries ban travelers from UK

The new coronavirus variant in Britain: Everything we know so far