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Expert warns ‘risk restrictions could be back in place’ if new variant spreads

1st Mar 21 12:55 pm

A government scientific advisor has warned that if the new variant spreads more widely, there is a ‘risk’ that tougher restrictions could be re-introduced.

This comes as Public health England (PHE) have said they are urgently hunting a mystery person who entered the UK from Brazil and has the concerning Manaus variant of Covid.

The Manaus variant could spread more rapidly and may not respond to the current vaccines that are being rolled out.

The P.1 variant which was first discovered in Brazil has now hit the UK with six confirmed cases, there are three in Scotland and three in England.

Professor Graham Medley, of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who is also a member of the scientific group Sage, has warned the new Brazilian variant could risk delaying the end of lockdown.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the professor warned, “It is a variant of concern, but we are going to be faced with these in the next six months as we move towards relaxing measures.

“There are going to be challenges on the way and there is always a risk that we might have to go backwards.

“That’s what nobody wants to do is to actually open up and then have to close down again.

“So monitoring these variants, keeping an eye on in terms of what they actually do, so sequencing, for example, viruses in hospitals I think is a crucial step to know whether or not this variant and other variants in the future, what impact they’re actually having.”

The health Secretary Matt Hancock will address the nation from Downing Street at 5pm today.

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