Up to six cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in Manaus, Brazil have been detected in the UK, the national health body has confirmed.
Public Health England (PHE) has identified three of these cases of the ‘Variant of Concern’ in England. Two of these cases are from one household in South Gloucestershire who have visited Brazil and there is a third, currently unlinked case.
The cases in South Gloucestershire were followed up by the PHE Health Protection Team, working in collaboration with South Gloucestershire Council and NHS Test and Trace. Cases and their contacts have been identified and retested.
PHE and NHS Test and Trace are following up with all passengers on Swiss Air flight LX318 travelling from Sao Paulo via Zurich and landing in London Heathrow on 10 February.
Further investigation is underway regarding the third case in England. The individual did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are not available.
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE strategic response director for COVID-19 and NHS Test and Trace medical advisor, commented: ‘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.’