Six cases of the Manaus variant of coronavirus from Brazil have been found in Britain, Public Health England (PHE) announced today.
Three cases of the mutant variant first detected in the Northern Brazilian city have been found in England and three in Scotland.
Though officials are concerned that the existing vaccines may be less effective against the Manaus strain, and that the strain may spread more quickly, more studies of the variant are needed.
The first two cases of the P.1 strain are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil, but the third is not linked.
The whereabouts of that individual is unknown, as PHE says the person did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are unavailable.
Officials are asking anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and who has not received a result or has an uncompleted test registration card to come forward immediately.
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.’
The World Health Organisation has been informed of the cases, which has been designated ‘of concern’ as it shares key mutations with the variant detected in South Africa.
In South Gloucestershire, one of the individuals had travelled back from Brazil in mid-February, before the Government introduced the quarantine hotel policy.
So they isolated at home with the rest of their household. One member developed symptoms, officials said, before getting a test.
There were three other further cases in that household, two of which were confirmed as the Manaus variant with genetic sequencing, but the other two were not sequenced.
The remaining case, currently not located, is not believed to be linked to the others because the virus was found to have slight genetic differences.
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