Two cases of a new, “more transmissible” COVID-19 variant linked to South Africa have been identified in the UK, the health secretary has said.
Matt Hancock said in a Downing Street news conference that both cases are contacts of people who travelled from South Africa over the last few weeks.
Those with the new variant, and contacts of them, are quarantining.
Mr Hancock added: “This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK.”
The new strain is “shortly to be analysed at Porton Down”, Mr Hancock said.
There are immediate restrictions on travelling from South Africa.
In addition, people who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Africa in the last fortnight have been told they must quarantine.
The health secretary said the government is “incredibly grateful to the South African government for the rigour of their science and the openness and the transparency with which they have rightly acted as we did when we discovered a new variant here”.
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