Search For Missing Brazil Covid Case Zones In On 379 Homes In South East England, Matt Hancock Says
Matt Hancock has announced efforts are underway to contact 379 households in the south-east where it is suspected an unidentified person infected with a Brazilian strain of Covid-19 is staying.
It comes after Public Health England said on Sunday that six cases of the concerning P1 strain, originating from Manaus, Brazil, had been identified in the UK but that they had failed to identify one of the individuals who had contracted the strain.
Speaking on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the individual had completed a Covid test but had "didn't successfully complete the contact details" on a contact tracing form.
"Incidents like this are rare and only occur in around 0.1% for tests," he said.
"I can update the house on the latest information in identifying this case. We’ve identified the batch of home test kits in question.
"Our search has narrowed from the whole country down to 379 households in the south-east of England and we are contacting each one."
The Health Secretary said the case had been detected in a home kit ordered by the individual or provided by the local authority, but that they had failed to properly complete their contact details.Hancock added: "We know that five of these six people quarantined at home as they were legally required to do."
The Department of Health and Social Care is yet to reveal how the households are being contacted.
But the operation is likely to be significant given the concern around the variant which may spread faster and be less responsive to current vaccines.
"Our current vaccines have not yet been studied against this variant and we're working to understand what impact it might have," Hancock added.
"But we do know that this variant has caused significant challenges in Brazil, so we're doing all we can to stop the spread of this new variant in the UK, to analyse its effects and to develop an updated vaccine that works on all these variants of concern and protect the progress that we've made as a nation."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe