Hunt for Brazil Covid variant patient narrowed down to 379 households

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The hunt for the missing patient with the Brazil coronavirus variant of concern has been narrowed down to 379 households, the Health Secretary has announced.

Matt Hancock told MPs the households are in the South East of England.

The missing person is one of six cases found in the UK last month of the P1 strain first identified in Manaus, Brazil.

But the patient, who used a home testing kit, did not complete their test details online so officials do not know who it is.

Health officials said the cases were discovered across England and Scotland last week.

An urgent hunt to trace the patient is under way after the test came back positive on February 14.

Mr Hancock said: "We have no information to suggest the variant has spread further."

Incidents like this are "rare" and only happen in 0.1% of cases, he added.

He said officials had identified the batch of home test kits in question, which has narrowed the search down from "the whole country" to 379 households.

Each household is being contacted.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of the variant on vaccines, although NHS bosses say jabs could be rapidly adapted.

Mr Hancock said: "We're grateful that a number of potential cases have come forward following the call that we put out over the weekend.

"Our current vaccines have not yet been studied against this variant and we're working to understand what impact it might have.

"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."

Two of the three cases of the Brazilian variant in England were found in the same South Gloucestershire household, which has a history of travel to Brazil.

The strain has been designated “of concern” as it shares key mutations with the variant detected in South Africa, which is more transmissible than the original strain.

The three cases in Scotland, who flew from Brazil to Paris, London and then Aberdeen, are now self-isolating.

MPs also heard one in four people in England are now estimated to have antibodies against Covid.

The levels are highest in the over-80s, the first group to be vaccinated.

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  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • NHS

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