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The Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium (Cog-UK) matched the genetic fingerprint of more than 16,000 viral infections in the UK to 11,889 from abroad. Research uncovered that 34% of those tested came from Spain, whilst just under 30% of tests were introduced from France. The findings suggest that the virus was transmitted into the country rather than the notion that a single “patient zero” – the first human case of coronavirus – prompted the UK outbreak.
Imported infections were said to have spiked halfway through the month due to passengers travelling in and out of the country.
Brits were advised against travel before the UK went into the lockdown on March 17th.
Unlike several other countries preventing travel abroad, the Government opted not to close the country’s borders, and flights remain active.
On Monday, International arrivals into the UK were advised to observe a 14-day quarantine period.
The Institute for Economics and Peace condemned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to continue allowing people into the UK.
In the report, the study accused the Government of “facilitating contagion.”
Researchers believe that the “flow of air passengers across and within country borders have been a major contributor to the spread of the virus.”
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Speaking to news agency, PA, Serge Stroobants, an IEP director said: “The countries most impacted are countries that are really participating in global trade in the globalised world and interconnected world.
These are countries in which you will find a large airport hub, giving the potential to people to travel from one country to the other.
That’s why, for example, the region of Milan in Italy, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, London and New York, those big international hubs, created more exchanges and more potential for the virus to grow. He added.”
This comes after a report from the University of Cambridge estimated the virus started spreading as early as September 2019.
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Peter Forster, a geneticist at the University said in April: “The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other individuals.”
He added: “Then it started infecting and spreading among humans between September 13 and December 7, generating the network we present in [the journal] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].”
There have been unsubstantiated reports that the virus was made in a Wuhan lab, but the new study doesn’t agree with the findings of those reports.
Speaking on the issue, Mr Forster suggested it was an unusual claim that his team’s research didn’t support.
Mr Forster said: “If I am pressed for an answer, I would say the original spread started more likely in Southern China than in Wuhan.
But proof can only come from analysing more bats, possibly other potential host animals, and preserved tissue samples in Chinese hospitals stored between September and December.”
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