New Thai variant under investigation as another strain of Covid crosses UK borders –

New Thai variant under investigation as another strain of Covid crosses UK borders – fr

The new Thai variant is believed to have arrived from Egypt’s amber list (Photo: PA / Getty)

A new variant of the coronavirus is under consideration in the UK, as fears grow around the Indian strain derailing the country’s exit from lockdown.

Health officials confirmed on Thursday that a variant first detected in Thailand had been found in the UK – but it was not clear whether the strain was more infectious or dangerous.

Public Health England (PHE) said the variant was imported from Egypt – a country, like Thailand, on the UK’s amber list.

So far, 109 cases of the C.36.3 variant have been found – and scientists will run tests to determine if it meets the threshold of being a ‘variant of concern’.

Scientists revealed that investigations into the new strain began Monday, “based on the mutation profile and increased imports from an expanding international area.”

Officials said the variant had been “scattered across the country,” but did not disclose where the cases were found.

In a statement posted on its website, PHE said: “There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more serious disease or makes currently deployed vaccines less effective. PHE is performing laboratory tests to better understand the impact of mutations on the behavior of the virus.

John Mason receives his Covid vaccine earlier this year in Blackburn, an Indian variant hotspot (Photo: Getty Images)

“All appropriate public health interventions will be undertaken, including additional contact tracing and targeted testing.

“When cases have been identified, additional case follow-up, contact testing and, if necessary, targeted case finding will limit its spread.

The government has faced widespread and sustained criticism for not forcing all newcomers to hotel quarantine, with countless cases imported from overseas.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that up to three-quarters of new cases could now be the Indian variant, which is expected to overtake the Kent variant as the dominant strain.

Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in the UK, with ministers repeatedly referring to a ‘race’ between variants and vaccines, and Thursday’s daily total is the highest in the country since April 12.

The emergence of the Thai variant follows that of the ‘Yorkshire variant’, a ‘triple mutant’ strain, which was examined after the detection of 49 cases – less than half that of the version initially detected in Thailand.

A key scientist, Professor Neil Ferguson, warned Thursday that the June 21 reopening is now in play following the rise of the most infectious Indian variant.

He added: “The key question of whether we can move forward is this: will the push caused by the Indian variant – and we think there will be a push – will be greater than what? has already been included in the easing measures? “

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference tonight, Mr Hancock said: ‘Latest estimates indicate that more than half and potentially up to three quarters of all new cases are now of this (Indian) variant. “

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