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Brazil COVID ‘variant of concern’ discovered in UK, health officials say

Written by on 28/02/2021

The Brazil COVID-19 ‘variant of concern’ first detected in the city of Manaus has been discovered in the UK.

Three cases of the new variant, known as P1, have been found in South Gloucestershire, Public Health England said on Sunday.

The other three were detected in Scotland, but are not linked to the England cases, according to the Scottish government.

Two of the cases in England come from one household in South Gloucestershire that returned from Brazil in mid-February, before the new hotel quarantine measures were introduced.

The third case is unlinked and the whereabouts of the individual unknown, as the person did not complete their test registration card, PHE said.

Scotland’s three variant cases have been identified in the north east of the country after three people flew from Brazil to Aberdeen via Paris and London.

All the other passengers who were on their final flight from London to Aberdeen have been contacted, the Scottish government said.

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PHE is asking anyone who took a coronavirus test on 12 or 13 February and did not receive a result or complete a test registration card to come forward immediately in the hope of identifying the third English case.

Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s strategic response director for COVID-19, said: “We have identified these cases thanks to the UK’s advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.

“The important thing to remember is that COVID-19, no matter what variant it is, spreads in the same way. That means the measures to stop it spreading do not change.”

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman added: “This new variant demonstrates how serious coronavirus is and reinforces the need to minimise the spread of the virus.

“We would encourage everyone across the country to adhere to the necessary public health restrictions by staying at home except for essential purposes as this is the single best way of staying safe and stopping the spread of this virus.”

The World Health Organisation has been informed of the new cases as the Brazil variant shares key mutations with the one found in South Africa.

Health officials say it is “possible” vaccines may be less effective against the P1 variant, but more work is needed.

 Sky News

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