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More ‘mutations of concern’ found in Bristol and Liverpool, Hancock says

Written by on 02/02/2021

More coronavirus “mutations of concern” have been found in Bristol and Liverpool, the health secretary has announced.

Matt Hancock said 11 were identified in Bristol and 32 in Liverpool, with the government now extending the door-to-door testing drive currently underway in eight postcodes where the South African COVID-19 variant has been spread by community transmission.

In a statement to the Commons on Tuesday, he said: “In all these areas it is imperative that people must stay at home and only leave home where it is absolutely essential.

“When your local authority offers you a test you should take up the offer, because we know that one in three people with coronavirus have no symptoms but can still pass it on.

“We’re offering testing to everyone aged 16 and over, even if you have been vaccinated.

“And if you live in one of those areas but have not been contacted and you’re unsure if you should have a test, I encourage you to visit your local authority website to find out.”

Mr Hancock reiterated that there is “no evidence” the South African variant is any more lethal, but it is believed to be more transmissible.

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“We have to come down on it hard – our mission must be to stop its spread altogether,” he said.

He faced questions about the government’s border plan to protect against news variants, after it was accused of being “reckless”.

It emerged overnight that scientific advisers warned ministers on 21 January 2021 that only mandatory hotel quarantine for all travellers to the UK would come close to fully preventing the import of new coronavirus variants.

The policy announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week applies to UK nationals and residents returning from 30 “red list” countries – and there is no start date for the measure.

Mr Hancock rebuffed criticism, saying “we brought in tougher action at the border and we stand ready to do more”.

 Sky News

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