The mystery person in Britain infected with the Brazil variant of coronavirus has been found, officials claimed today after a nationwide hunt lasting five days.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to confirm the discovery at a Downing Street press conference at 5pm and say that all the person’s recent contacts have been traced by the government.
Health authorities announced last Sunday that six cases of the variant first found in Manaus, known as P1, had been found in the UK.
They were found when the genetics of tests taken by returning travellers were analysed, with results showing they were positive for P1.
Three cases were in Scotland and three in England, with five of them quickly tracked down, but one was unidentified because they had not given any contact details when they posted their coronavirus swab to the lab.
A huge search was then launched and an appeal made for the person in England to come forward.
Mr Hancock said on Tuesday that the search had been narrowed to 379 homes in the South East after NHS Test and Trace managed to identify the batch of home test kits the swab had been taken from.
A coronavirus test is handed out of a car window in a car park in Hamsphire last month
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on Tuesday (pictured) that the hunt had been narrowed down to 379 households in the South East of England
Now, two officials have told the
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that the hunt had been narrowed down to 379 households in the South East of England.
Brazil variant ‘reinfects 61% of patients who already had immunity’
The Brazilian variant can reinfect up to 61 per cent of patients who already had immunity to Covid-19, a study has revealed. Researchers also found the P1 Brazilian strain was twice as infectious as the original variant.
The strain has a mutation called E484K that changes the shape of the virus’s spike protein, helping it dodge antibodies. This means those who have immunity after prior infection can be reinfected. The study researched the virus in Manaus, Brazil.
The scientists – from Imperial College London, Oxford University and the University of Sao Paulo – found that between 25 per cent and 61 per cent of those who previously had Covid could be reinfected with the P1 strain.
Mr Hancock told the Commons earlier this week that the appeal had resulted in a number of leads and it was thought the affected person took a home test.
Meanwhile new data has shown the number of people with Covid-19 in homes across England continues to fall, although the picture is uncertain in some regions.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that around one in 220 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between February 21 and 27 – the equivalent of 248,100 people.
The figure is down from around one in 145, or 373,700 people, for the period February 13 to 19, and is the lowest figure since the week to October 1 when it was one in 240.
However, the number of people infected in England is still high when compared to last summer. In the week to August 25 around one in 2,000 people had coronavirus.
It comes as Government scientific advisers said the latest reproduction number (the R) estimate for England remains unchanged at between 0.7 and 0.9.
Meanwhile, R is between 0.7 and 0.9 for the whole of the UK, compared with 0.6 and 0.9 last week.
Estimates of R are below 1 in all NHS regions of England, although the estimate for the North East and Yorkshire has an upper bound of 1.
The Office for National Statistics estimated that 248,000 people across England are infected with the coronavirus, down from 370,000 in its estimate last Friday
Earlier, one adviser said society will need to learn to live with a “substantial” degree of Covid-19 mortality.
Professor Andrew Hayward, from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the number of deaths will continue to drop as vaccination kicks in, and death rates could begin to look more like those for flu.
Other experts, including Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, have said the UK can expect a wave of deaths next winter, mostly among the unvaccinated and those for whom vaccines do not provide total protection.
Vaccine manufacturers are working on updated vaccines to tackle variants, which could be fast-tracked for approval by the autumn.
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