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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The discovery of the South Africa strain of coronavirus has prompted a series of travel bans, with people arriving into England from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man needing to isolate at home for 10 days and providing a negative Covid-19 test result before they travel.
A system of quarantine is due to be introduced in the coming weeks that will require those arriving from countries under travel bans to isolate in hotels.
Labour has urged the Government to go further and bring in a hotel quarantine system for all UK arrivals as a way of keeping out mutant strains.