New Covid variant from Caribbean found in UK after two arrivals test positive

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A new coronavirus variant from Antigua has been found in the UK.

Public health officials said the mutant strain had been discovered in two people who had recently been in the Caribbean island.

It follows new variants of concern which first emerged in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

Although it shared some traits of other variants, they said it would not be categorised as “concerning” for now.

It was designated a variant under investigation last Thursday.

The two cases were found in the south east of England after the patients had recently travelled.

Public Health England (PHE) said: "The variant contains the spike mutations E484K and N501Y, both usually associated with Variants of Concern (VOC), however it does not feature specific deletions that would lead to a designation as a VOC.”

Figures show more than 2.7million people have been killed in the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

Scientists are worried the variants of concern have changes that give the virus advantages, such as increased transmissibility or reducing the effectiveness of vaccines.

PHE also revealed four more cases of the P.1 variant, which was first found in northern Brazil, had been identified in England.

It brings the total number of the Brazil variant identified in Britain to 10.

All the cases had links to direct travel from Brazil or to a previously confirmed case that had travelled there, PHE said in a statement.

The announcement comes two days after Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, warned of another Covid surge at the end of summer.

He told MPs vaccines were not a "get out of jail card”.

Professor Whitty said: “A lot of people may think this is all over. It is very easy to forget how quickly things can turn bad.”

And Dr Susan Hopkins, from PHE, warned Britain will have to “prepare for a hard winter” on the basis of fears new Covid strains and seasonal flu will surge at the same time.

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