Missing Case of Brazilian COVID-19 Variant Found in England

March 5, 2021 Updated: March 5, 2021

The UK health authorities have located the person who tested positive for the Brazilian COVID-19 variant but did not register their personal information, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed on Friday.

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.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on March 2 that the search for the missing case had narrowed down to just 379 households in southeast England.

Matt Hancock
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a COVID-19 press conference at Downing Street in London, on Jan. 25, 2021. (John Sibley – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The government said on Friday 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.

PHE is now carrying out enhanced contact tracing with the person and the other members of their household.

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,” he said.

Scientists are concerned that the P.1 variant can re-infect CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus patients more easily.

On Thursday, PHE revealed that 16 cases of a new CCP virus variant had been identified in the UK.

The new variant, VUI-202102/04 (lineage B.1.1.318), understood to have originated in the UK, was first identified on Feb. 15 through genomic horizon scanning.

The variant contains the E484K mutation, but does not feature the N501Y mutation, PHE said.

The UK government has adopted strict travel controls to prevent CCP virus variants from entering the country.

People arriving in England from 33 countries on the UK’s “red list,” including southern Africa, South America, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates, must enter the country through a designated port and have pre-booked a quarantine package to stay at one of the government’s managed quarantine facilities.

In Scotland, the devolved administration is enforcing stricter measures than in England, requiring travellers from all countries except Ireland to quarantine in hotels.