Bristol Covid strain: New variant branded cause for ‘concern’ as Kent strain mutates

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The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) has classed the variant first identified in Bristol – the Kent variant with the E484K mutation – as a “variant of concern”. Meanwhile, a variant identified in Liverpool has been classed as a “variant under investigation”.

Thousands of people in Manchester have been asked to take coronavirus tests after cases have been discovered of a mutated variant of the virus.

This variant is believed to be the same as that found 160 miles away in Bristol. 

Yesterday, Manchester City Council announced that 10,000 coronavirus tests would be used to test and trace in parts of Hulme, Moss Side, Whalley Range, and Fallowfield.

Deputy director for health protection at Public Health England North West,  Doctor Will Welfare, said: “As part of our testing work, Public Health England has identified in the Moss Side area of Manchester a small number of Covid-19 cases of the variant first identified in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.”

The Bristol strain, or E484K, has been labelled an “escape mutation”.

This is because scientists fear the virus can evade the body’s immune defences.

However, public health officials say this new strain has not been found yet to cause a more serious illness.

David Regan, Director of Public Health, Manchester City Council, said: “We all know that the virus will change over time and it’s important that we investigate new strains to understand how they might spread.

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“This is exactly what we’re doing with the intensive testing in parts of Manchester with local testing units and people going door-to-door to offer people tests.

“There is no evidence that this variant will be resistant to the vaccines or causes a more severe illness, and it is not yet known if the strain can be passed more easily between people. But it is really important that everyone who lives in the boundary area and is over the age of 16 plays their part and gets a test.  

“The best thing we can all do it to keep following the rules – Hands, Face, Space – get a test if you have symptoms, and keep your vaccination appointment when you are called.”

More to follow… 

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