UK seeks person infected with Brazilian coronavirus variant
The UK is trying to trace a person infected with a Brazilian variant of the coronavirus that authorities say may be more resistant to vaccines.
Six cases of the mutation, which originated in the Amazonian city of Manaus, have been detected in the UK, Public Health England said on Sunday. While five have been found, the identity of the final patient is still unknown because they failed to complete a test registration card, leaving health officials without the information needed to find them.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi toured the broadcast studios on Monday morning to appeal to anyone who took a Covid-19 test on February 12 or 13 and hasn’t yet had a result to contact the National Health Service. He told Times Radio that the authorities are working with the postal system to try to identify the missing patient.
The arrival of the variant in the UK opens the government up to criticism about its quarantine policy, which was finally introduced on February 15 -- several weeks after scientists said blanket restrictions were needed. Compulsory hotel quarantine is now in place for arrivals from 33 countries and territories, including Brazil, while those coming from elsewhere are asked to isolate at home.
The latest “variant has been designated ‘of concern’ as it shares some important mutations with the variant first identified in South Africa,” PHE said. “It is possible that this variant may respond less well to current vaccines, but more work is needed to understand this.”
Health officials are contacting all passengers on the February 10 Swiss Air flight LX318 from Sao Paulo to London Heathrow via Zurich in order to test them and their households, PHE said.
Zahawi said surge testing is also taking place in Gloucestershire -- where two of the cases were detected -- as a precaution.
“There’s minimal reason to believe that there may be further spread because they have been isolating correctly,” he told Sky News.
He defended the UK’s border policy, saying that even in Australia, which has a stricter regime, authorities have had to deal with variants.