Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that experts have discovered 77 cases of the South African Covid-19 variant through the testing of people who had recently travelled.
The new variants had been identified because both Brazil and South Africa had ‘decent-sized’ genomic sequencing programmes but other countries were less well covered, he said. “The new variant I really worry about is the one that is out there that hasn’t been spotted, ’he told Sky News.
“There’s probably those elsewhere that simply haven’t been picked up because the country doesn’t have that genomic sequencing service.”
It comes as the government is reportedly preparing to bring in a mandatory quarantine system where people from high-risk countries will have to pay for a hotel stay upon arrival in the UK.
Following the emergence of new variants of the virus in Brazil and South Africa which may be less susceptible to the vaccines, Mr Hancock said the Government would adopt a ‘precautionary’ approach to protecting the UK’s border. Meanwhile, over third quarter of all those above 80 in the UK have now been vaccinated, with a similar number of those in care homes.