Scientists have discovered a “very small” number of cases involving a mutated version of the Kent strain of the coronavirus, Matt Hancock said.
The health secretary urged the people in areas with a mutation of concern” to avoid going out in order to “stamp on” the prospect of new mutations of a more transmissible strain of the coronavirus.
Mass testing is to be ramped up in Bristol and Liverpool were several mutations were detected. Following the emergence of the transmissible South African variant, door-to-door community testing was rolled-out in many parts of the UK.
“In those areas where this variant has been found – parts of Broxbourne, London, Maidstone and Southport, Walsall and Woking – we’re putting in extra testing and sequencing every positive test,” the health secretary said.
Mr Hancock expressed that the current lockdown measures should be kept in place as they make it easier to limit the spread of the mutation.
In another statement, he said: “The actions that we’ve taken to put in the enhanced contact tracing – the extra testing in the whole community around where we find a case – and the clear instructions to people in those areas that it is imperative that they stay at home and avoid all contact with other people outside their household wherever possible.
“That is important. In a national lockdown, we will be able to tackle this.”