GovWire

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants identified in UK

Public Health England

March 5
17:42 2021

Latest update

Contact tracers successfully identify sixth case of P.1 Variant of Concern

Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace teams have successfully located the third individual in England who tested positive for the P.1 Variant of Concern that originated in Manaus, Brazil.

Tracing teams narrowed their search to a small number of households in Croydon, South London, when an individual from the borough made themselves known by responding to calls made by specialist contact tracers.

NHS Test and Trace were then able to match the barcode from the individuals testing pack to the variant test result.

PHE is now carrying out enhanced contact tracing with the individual and other members of their household. The case had been in contact with an individual who travelled from Brazil in early February.

Although investigations are ongoing, current early indications are that all members of the household isolated for the correct amount of time after the traveller returned and after the case developed symptoms.

Doctor Fu-Meng Khaw, Strategic Response Director for PHE and Deputy Chief Medical Adviser for Test and Trace, said:

The identification of this individual is the result of an enormous collaborative effort between specialist teams at NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England.

Staff have been working around the clock to pursue every line of investigation and this is a fantastic result that enables us to fully investigate the circumstances around the case and reduce the risk of onward transmission.

As an additional precaution, were working closely with Croydon Council to put in place further testing in the area.

We are continuing to monitor all variants closely and the best way to protect against all COVID-19 infections is to remember the basics of Hands, Face, Space.

Previous

Thursday 4 March

New Variant Under Investigation designated in the UK

Sixteen cases of a new variant, VUI-202102/04 (lineage B.1.1.318), have been identified in the UK. The variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) by Public Health England (PHE).

Cases of this variant, understood to have originated in the UK, were first identified on 15 February through genomic horizon scanning. All individuals who tested positive and their contacts have been traced and advised to isolate.

Following assessments, the variant was designated a VUI on 24 February. It contains the E484K mutation, which is also found in 2 existing VUIs present in the UK, but does not feature the N501Y mutation, present in all variants of concern (VOCs).

The addition of this variant as a VUI means there are now a total of 4 VUIs and 4 VOCs currently being tracked in the UK.

As of 3 March:

  • a total of 59 cases of the variant VOC-202012/02, first detected in South Africa, have been found in England where no travel links could be established
  • a total of 26 cases of the variant VUI-202101/01, the P2 variant first detected in Brazil, have been found in England where no travel links could be established

Previous

Tuesday 28 February

Cases of Variant of Concern first detected in Manaus identified in the UK

Up to 6 cases of theVariant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil (P.1)have been detected in the UK. Public Health England (PHE) has identified 3 of these cases of the Variant of Concern in England.

Two of the cases in England are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil and there is a third, currently unlinked case.

The cases in South Gloucestershire were rapidly followed up by the PHE Health Protection Team cases and their contacts have been identified and retested. One case that had travelled to Brazil has been isolating at home with their household since returning to the UK.

PHE and NHS Test and Trace are following up with all passengers on Swiss Air flight LX318 travelling from Sao Paulo via Zurich and landing in London Heathrow on 10 February, to provide public health advice and test them and their households. Anyone who returned to the UK at that time should have gone home immediately from the airport and isolated for 10 days.

If you were a passenger on the flight and have not been contacted, please call 01174 503 174 to arrange a test for you and your household contacts.

Although the risk to the wider community is considered low, as a precaution, PHE, working in collaboration with South Gloucestershire Council and NHS Test and Trace, is taking swift and decisive action to deploy surge asymptomatic testing as well as increasing sequencing of positive samples from the area. Residents of South Gloucestershire should visit the councils website for more information on testing. The most important actions are identifying cases and their contacts and supporting these individuals to isolate effectively.

Further investigation is underway regarding the third case in England. The individual did not complete their test registration card so follow-up details are not available. We are therefore asking for anyone who undertook a test on 12 or 13 February and hasnt received their result or has an uncompleted test registration card, to call 119 in England or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland for assistance as soon as possible.

The P.1 variant has been designated of concern as it shares some important mutations with the variant first identified in South Africa (B.1.351), such as E484K and N501Y. It is possible that this variant may respond less well to current vaccines, but more work is needed to understand this.

Dr Susan Hopkins, PHE strategic response director for COVID-19 and NHS Test and Trace Medical Advisor, said:

We have identified these cases thanks to the UKs 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. Stay at home and if you do need to go out for essential reasons, cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands thoroughly and keep your distance.

We ask that individuals come forward for testing through the symptomatic and asymptomatic test sites across the countries in order to continue to drive down cases in the community.

Background

Three cases of the variant have also been identified in Scotland but these are not linked to these 3 cases in England.

Tuesday 16 February

Public Health England (PHE) has identified 38 cases of COVID-19 which genomic sequencing has shown to feature a specific set of mutations which are currently being referred to as lineage B.1.525. The set of mutations includes the E484K spike protein mutation, which is present on a number of other variants of concern and variants under investigation.

This variant has been designated a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) and will be referred to as VUI202102/03.

The variant has been detected in other countries, including Nigeria, Denmark and Canada.

Cases are geographically dispersed across England. Enhanced contact tracing and genomic sequencing is underway to monitor the situation as it develops.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said:

PHE is monitoring data about emerging variants very closely and where necessary public health interventions are being undertaken, such as extra testing and enhanced contact tracing.

There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility.

The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to follow the public health advice: wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. While in lockdown, it is important that people stay at home, where possible.

Regular updates of confirmed variant cases will be provided on this page.

Friday 15 January

As of Thursday 14 January 2021, 35

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