Two cases of a new “more transmissible” COVID-19 variant associated with South Africa have been identified in the United Kingdom, Health Secretary said.
Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference that the two cases involved people who had traveled from South Africa over the past few weeks.
Those who have the new variant, and their contacts, are subject to quarantine.
There are immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa. Sky News understands that flights from the country will be suspended.
Additionally, people who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Africa in the past two weeks have been told that they should be quarantined.
The South African strain is thought to be behind a record number of people being hospitalized Covid-19 In that country.
It comes as UK government figures showed Another 744 people died Within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19, the highest number since April 29.
There are another 39,237 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest daily number during the pandemic – though this is partly due to broader testing.
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said the new alternative Recently discovered in the UK, And those in South Africa, are “very different” and “different mutations.”
“Both seem to be more transmissible,” she added.
Dr Hopkins said at press conference No. 10: “We have more evidence of the UK version moving, because we are studying it in great detail with academic partners.
“We are still learning about the South African alternative. We are very confident that the system we have will help control the spread.”
With regard to vaccination, Dr. Hopkins said that the Pfizer vaccine produces “a strong and wide-ranging immune response and works against many variations in the virus,” adding that “there is no evidence at the present time that the vaccine will not work.”
Hancock said: “This new variant is very disturbing because it is more transmissible and appears to have mutated more than the new variable discovered in the United Kingdom.”
The Minister of Health added that the new strain “will be analyzed soon in Porton Down.”
Mr. Hancock said the ministers are “incredibly grateful to the government of South Africa for the rigor of their knowledge and the openness and transparency with which they have acted properly as we did when we discovered a new variant here.”
Analysis: South African alternative “appears to have a higher viral load”
Thomas More, Science Correspondent
The new virus strain in South Africa is a major concern and the government has moved quickly to shut it down.
The nation’s health authorities believe the 501.V2 variant is more common in younger adults.
It also appears to have a higher viral load and as a result it spreads more easily from person to person.
It is thought that it could partially explain the recent spike in infections in South Africa.
Genetic analysis shows it shares some of the new strain mutations already circulating in the UK, but the two viruses have evolved separately.
The Minister of Health has ordered anyone who has been in South Africa, or has been in contact with someone who within the past two weeks, self-isolates immediately.
Once again, the UK’s rapid genetic analysis of the strains caught the mutated virus at an early stage – but was that soon enough?