A NEW Covid variant has been found in England, Public Health England confirmed today.
It emerged after two infected people returned from Antigua to the south east of England.
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It was declared a Variant Under Investigation on March 4, and has two mutations which can evade vaccines and speed up transmission.
No other cases have been found of this variant so far, after teams worked to speak to any close contacts and the pair isolated.
It comes as four more cases of the Brazil variant, known as P.1, have been found in the UK.
Three cases emerged in South Gloucestershire and one in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
The cases in South Gloucestershire are all close or household contacts of two existing infections in the area.
Surge testing was deployed in response to the initial cases, with specialist teams working to track down any other contacts.
The person in Bradford infected with the variant tested positive in late February, after travelling back from Brazil via Paris on February 14.
The latest cases bring the total number of P.1 variant cases in the UK to ten – seven in England and three in Scotland, all of which have links to travel or to a previously confirmed case that has travelled to Brazil.
Prof Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology, Warwick Medical School, said: “It is no surprise that additional cases of infection with the Brazilian P.1 variant have been identified – particularly as a consequence of household transmission from two previously reported cases.
“Aside from this virus being more contagious, it is also likely to be partially resistant to current vaccines and may also be able to re-infect individuals who were previously infected with a different variant.
“That’s why it’s even more important to do everything to stop the spread of this variant (and all others) by ensuring strict border control measures and efficient surge testing to trace and isolate infected individuals and their contacts.”
Other variants of concern present in the UK include the Kent variant and those from South Africa and Brazil.
The Kent Covid variant is up to twice as deadly compared with the original strain, scientists have warned.
The strain is the most dominant in Britain and has reached all corners of the globe.
The Brazilian variant has been shown to be more deadly in the city of Manaus, where it was first detected.
The Government hasn’t specified what the symptoms of the new strain from Brazil are.
However, experts have said it is characteristically similar to the other Covid mutations from the UK and South Africa.
Similarly, research from South Africa has given a hint that the strain that emerged there kills more patients.
More to follow…
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