Boris Johnson calls crisis meeting over new COVID strain

Hancock told the Commons on Monday that cases of the variant were found in almost 60 areas. He said: “Over the last few days, thanks to our world-class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the fastest spread in the south-east of England.

“Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variance. We’ve currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant, predominantly in the south of England, although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas and numbers are increasing rapidly.

“Similar variants have been identified in other countries over the last few months. We’ve notified the World Health Organization and Public Health England is working hard to continue its expert analysis at Porton Down.”

Hancock added: “I must stress at this point that there is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease and the latest clinical advice is that it’s highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine.