The Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs in the House of Commons on Friday that that “we are concerned that this new variant may pose a substantial risk to public health.”
He said that over the past two days a small number of cases of the new variant has been found internationally.
Javid told MPs that the World Health Organization (WHO) are holding a special meeting this morning.
He said, “I want to reassure this House that there are no detected cases of this variant in the UK at this time. But this variant is of huge international concern.
“I must stress this is a fast-moving situation and there remains a high degree of uncertainty.”
The new variant was first found in Hong Kong after a person travelled there from Hong Kong and the UK first identified the “potential threat” and alerted international partners.
More cases have been identified in Botswana and South Africa and Javid told MPs it is “highly likely that it has spread to other countries.”
Javid warned that the new variant could “pose a substantial risk to public health” and the variant is under investigation as “very high priority.”
He said, “We are concerned that this new variant may pose a substantial risk to public health.”
Javid warned that this variant could be “more transmissible” that the Delta and vaccines could be less effective.
He said he is concerned over the rise of infections in Southern Africa which has seen “exponential growth” which has risen four fold over the past two weeks, and added that these populations should already have “significant natural immunity.”