Four more cases of the Brazilian variant of the CCP virus, known as P.1, have been found in England, Public Health England (PHE) announced on Thursday.
The latest cases brought the UK total of P.1 variant cases to 10, including seven in England and three in Scotland.
Four more cases of the Variant of Concern VOC-202101/02, also known as P.1, have been identified in England – three in South Gloucestershire and one in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
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All of 10 cases either have direct links to travel to Brazil or have been in contact with a previously confirmed case that has travelled to the South American country.
Three of the new cases were found in South Gloucestershire, and one in Bradford, West Yorkshire, PHE said in its latest update.
PHE said the cases in South Gloucestershire are all “close or household contacts of the two existing P.1 cases in the area,” who are members of one household with a history of travel to Brazil.
The individual in Bradford tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in late February after travelling back from Brazil via Paris on Feb. 14. The authorities later confirmed the case as the P.1 variant through genomic sequencing.
Since these new cases were identified, “specialist contact tracing teams have undertaken a comprehensive investigation to identify any further contacts” and conduct further testing, PHE said.
PHE said on Feb. 28 that six cases of the Brazilian P.1 variant had been detected in the UK, three in England, and three more in Scotland. But one of the cases in England could not be traced as they did not complete their test registration card.
The government said on March 5 that PHE and NHS Test and Trace teams had successfully located the missing individual in Croydon, South London.
The person had been in contact with an individual who travelled from Brazil in early February, authorities said.
The Brazilian P.1 variant “carries several mutations that are seen in other variants of concern that are predicted to change the behaviour of the virus,” said Nick Loman, professor of microbial genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Birmingham.
“These include E484K, which is predicted to make existing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 less effective, as well as N501Y, which is potentially linked to increase transmissibility.”
Scientists are also concerned that the P.1 variant can re-infect COVID-19 patients more easily.