THE NEW strain of coronavirus has spread to Scotland and Wales.
Scottish and Welsh leaders Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford both confirmed today cases of the mutated version of Covid had been found – and it could be spreading faster.
So far, nine cases of the new strain had been found in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said today.
And in Wales, at least 10 cases have been identified.
Ms Sturgeon warned Scottish Parliament that the strain could be spreading faster.
She said: “While the initial analysis of it suggests that it may be more transmissible, with a faster growth rate than existing variants, that is not yet certain.
“It may instead be the case that it has been identified in areas where the virus is already spreading more rapidly.”
The Welsh Government said they had confirmed at least 10 cases, and expected more to be identified.
The mutation of the virus is believed to have started in the South East of England, and could be causing cases to spread even faster as London, Essex and Hertfordshire were all thrown into Tier 3 yesterday.
There have already been more than 1,000 cases across 60 different council areas in England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned yesterday that “initial analysis” suggested that the new strain “is growing faster than the existing variants.”
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty stressed last night scientists did not believe there was a greater risk of severe illness if people catch the mutated virus.
And he said it’s possible it is not spreading faster – but is just confined to areas which have had a rapid surge in fresh cases.
A member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Professor Calum Semple, of the University of Liverpool, said people should not “lose sleep” over the new strain.
He said it was normal for viruses to mutate.
Professor Semple told BBC Breakfast: “People should not be losing sleep about this, they really need to leave the virology to the scientists because we’re at the very early stages of understanding what’s going on here.
“What I can say is that coronavirus, like many other viruses, mutate all the time.
“And without the presence of community immunity – that’s because we don’t have herd immunity and won’t have for many, many months – the virus essentially is free to change and become more comfortable with the humans with which it is living.
“That’s what the virus is doing – it is learning how to become slightly better at living with us and becoming slightly more infectious.
“But that does not mean it’s harming us more or causing more severe illness in people.”
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