A new strain of coronavirus from Brazil has been detected in the UK with surge testing being rolled out in several postcode areas.
Known as the P.1 strain, it was first detected in Manaus two months ago with health officials confirming yesterday (Sunday) that it has been in the UK for several weeks.
Three cases have been detected in England and three in north-east Scotland. One of the cases in England has not been located and could by anywhere in the nation after the person did not complete their registration card.
According to experts, the variant shares the now well known key symptoms of high temperature or fever, persistent cough and sudden loss of taste and smell. However people can still be asymptomatic no matter the strain.
Some initial research on the Kent strain, which carries the same genetic mutations as the Brazil strain, shows the symptoms are very similar to other strains.
According to the research, based on testing in England, 35 percent of people who tested positive for the UK variant reported having a cough, compared to 27 percent who tested positive for other strains.
The common symptoms that were reported for the UK strain are similar to other variants – for example, fatigue (32 percent of people with the UK variant), muscle aches (25 percent), a fever (21 percent) or sore throat (21 percent).
These levels of symptoms are similar to the levels seen with other strains.
Loss of taste or loss of sense of smell is slightly less common for people with the new UK strain – 15 percent of people with the UK strain report either of these symptoms, compared to 18 percent of people with other strains.
“Many people who get coronavirus don’t have any symptoms, regardless of which strain they have,” the British Heart Foundation explains.
“And there is no single symptom that means that you definitely do or don’t have the virus.
“So, if you have any concerns that you may have coronavirus, the safest thing to do is self-isolate and get a test.
“The new strains of coronavirus share the same key symptoms with the initial strain – including a high temperature, continuous cough, and loss of sense of taste or smell.”
The website adds: “The Brazilian strain is not believed to be more deadly, but it does spread more easily than the original Covid-19 strain.
“We don’t yet have good evidence on how effective the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is against the Brazilian variant. When more information is available, we will publish it here.”
The missing person with the Brazilian variant is understood to have used a home testing kit but did not complete a registration form.
As a result, health officials are appealing for anyone without a result from a test on 12 or 13 February to come forward.
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi today said: “In terms of its profile this P1 variant is much closer to the South African variant which we’ve been dealing with now for several weeks by surge testing, genome sequencing, and isolation.
“This is a variant of concern. It’s very similar in terms of its mutations to the South African variant so it is concerning.
“There is one case who the individual didn’t fill in their test card details so we can contact them. They probably got a home kit or a test kit from their local authority.
“What we’re asking today is if anyone had a test on February 12 or 13 to contact NHS 119 so we make sure we identify that individual.”
The P1 variant was first detected in travellers to Japan from Manaus in northern Brazil in January.
According to Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England (PHE), the UK is well equipped to contain the new strain.
There is no evidence to suggest the P1 variant produces any distinct symptoms.
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