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Second mutant Covid-19 strain detected, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announces

The new comes as the first continues its deadly spread across the UK

The UK Health Secretary has revealed that a second mutant coronavirus strain has been detected.

Matt Hancock said he was taking action in the South West of England, where there are “early signs of the new variant”.

Matt Hancock says two UK cases of a second coronavirus  variant have been discovered - and said it was 'highly concerning' and 'more transmissible' than the first variant.

Anyone who has been in South Africa, where the variant emerged, in the past fortnight must isolate immediately.

He said: "Both are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks."

He added: "We are incredibly grateful to the South African government for the rigour of their science and the openness and the transparency with which they have rightly acted as we did when we discovered a new variant here."

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Meanwhile, travel restrictions have also been published by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Rules here state you should only travel within the region when it is essential to do so.

Travellers arriving into Northern Ireland from within the CTA must self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days.

Mr Hancock continued: "This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK."

Coronavirus testing (Image: Getty stock image)

The Health Secretary said both cases and close contacts of the cases have been quarantined, there are immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa and the Government is telling those who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Africa in the last fortnight that they must quarantine.

He added: "These measures are temporary while we investigate further this new strain which is shortly to be analysed at Porton Down."

Earlier, Prof Neil Ferguson of SAGE had told MPs: “I think the one of greatest concern other than ours at the moment is the South African one."

He added: “There are certainly anecdotal reports of explosive outbreaks with that virus and very steep increases in case numbers.

“Also Nigeria’s showing a very sharp uptick of case numbers at the moment and we have no genetic data from there.”

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