COVID-19: Hunt for mystery person infected with Brazil variant narrows to 379 households

The hunt for an unidentified person who tested positive for the Brazil variant of coronavirus has narrowed to 379 households in southeast England, the health secretary has said.

In total, six cases of the P1 coronavirus variant first found in Brazil have been discovered in the UK.

One has still yet to be identified after the individual failed to complete their test registration card.

But Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on Tuesday that officials had now “identified the batch of home test kits in question”.

He added: “Our search has narrowed from the whole country down to 379 households in the southeast of England and we’re contacting each one.

“We’re grateful that a number of potential cases have come forward following the call that we put out over the weekend.”

There are concerns that the Brazil variant may spread more easily, might evade the immune system, or that vaccines might be less effective against it.

Mr Hancock said the UK’s current vaccines had “not yet been studied against this variant” but that work was underway to “understand what impact it might have”.

“We do know this variant has caused significant challenges in Brazil,” he added.

“So we’re doing all we can to stop the spread of thios 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 we’ve made as a nation.”

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