Public Health England (PHE) have identified the first UK cases of the Manaus variant of coronavirus, a new strain that may spread more rapidly and may respond less well to existing vaccines.
Up to six cases of the concerning variant first detected in the Brazilian city have been identified in Britain, three in England and three in Scotland, it emerged on Sunday.
The first two cases of the P.1 strain are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil but the third is not linked.
The whereabouts of that individual is unknown, as PHE says the person did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are unavailable.
Officials are asking anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and who has not received a result or has an uncompleted test registration card to come forward immediately.
Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE’s strategic response director for Covid-19, said: “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.”