Matt Hancock: ‘Mutations of concern’ found in Liverpool and Bristol
Matt Hancock said UK scientists have now detected 43 cases of the coronavirus featuring “mutations of concern” in Bristol and Liverpool. The Health Secretary said new variants meant the Government had to act with caution. Updating the commons on the state of play of the Covid response, Mr Hancock said: “We’ve also seen 11 cases of mutations of concern in Bristol, and 32 in Liverpool.“
The Tory frontbencher told MPs the new strains found were additional to the 11 cases of the South African variant that were not linked to international travel.
Britain has also identified cases of the UK variant which have the mutation of most concern.
“We must continue to act with caution, not least because of the renewed challenges posed by new variants of the coronavirus,” he said.
Mr Hancock urged residents in the affected areas stay at home whenever possible to help contain the spread the new mutations.
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He continued: “In all these areas it is imperative that people must stay at home and only leave home where it is absolutely essential.
“When your local authority offers you a test you should take up the offer, because we know that one in three people with coronavirus have no symptoms but can still pass it on.
“We’re offering testing to everyone aged 16 and over, even if you have been vaccinated.
“And if you live in one of those areas but have not been contacted and you’re unsure if you should have a test, I encourage you to visit your local authority website to find out.”
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Mr Hancock’s update came after Public Health England issued a warning about the Kent strain developing further mutations after random sampling identified 11 “concerning” cases.
Sky News correspondent Thomas Moore said: “It’s developed a superpower.
“This is a mutation in the South African variant that seems not only help it infect cells but also to evade the immune system.
“The reason being that spike protein that all the Covid viruses use to latch onto humans cells changes shapes and that means the antibodies don’t recognise it in quite the same way.”
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