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First UK Cases Of Brazil Variant Covid-19 Identified

First UK Cases Of Brazil Variant Covid-19 Identified

The variant may respond less well to existing vaccines

Will Fitzpatrick

Will Fitzpatrick

The 'Brazil variant' of Covid-19, first detected in the city of Manaus, has been discovered in the UK, health officials have said.

Public Health England (PHE) said today (Sunday 28 February) that three cases of the 'variant of concern' have been found in South Gloucestershire.

Two of those were found in one household with a history of travel to Brazil, while the third case is currently unlinked.

Another three cases, also unlinked to those in England, have also been identified in Scotland, according to the Scottish government.

Health officials have previously said it 'possible' that the vaccines may be less effective against the variant - known as P1 - variant, but more work will be required to confirm this.

PA

PHE, together with NHS Test and Trace, is checking in with all passengers on Swiss Air flight LX318, which travelled from Sao Paulo via Zurich and landed in London Heathrow on 10 February, for testing and guidance.

A statement on the PHE website says: "Anyone who returned to the UK at that time should have gone home immediately from the airport and isolated for 10 days."

The Scottish government, meanwhile, has stated that three Scottish residents went into self-isolation before and after testing positive for Covid-19 in early February, having returned from Brazil.

The new variant was then detected from these test results, with other passengers on the same flight now being contacted.

Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE strategic response director for Covid-19 and NHS Test and Trace Medical Advisor, 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.

"Stay at home and if you do need to go out for essential reasons, cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands thoroughly and keep your distance."

Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "The identification of this new variant is a concern but we are taking every possible precaution.

"We have identified these cases thanks to our use of advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.

"This new variant demonstrates how serious Covid 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.

"It is now also illegal for anyone to travel to or from Scotland unless it is for an essential reason."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, Coronavirus