Covid: Here's where samples of new virus strain have been found across UK

Samples were detected outside of London and the South East of England where the new strain is thought to have originated. Credit: PA

Researchers have found the new and more infectious variant of Covid-19 has already spread around the UK, with cases identified in south Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium sampled cases around the UK and found the variant in the South West, Midlands and North of England – areas that are under Tier 2 and 3 restrictions.

London and parts of South East England were put under tougher Tier 4 restrictions last Sunday due to concerns over the new strain which scientists believe is spreading more quickly than the previous form.

It could mean more areas are placed under stricter measures, but Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said no rule changes will come into force before Christmas Day.

Samples of the new strain have been detected in various parts of the UK. Credit: COG-UK

Here's the full list of areas in the UK that the new strain has been identified, according to data by the COG-UK monitoring group:


  • Six areas in Glasgow and in the surrounding areas - Linwood, Newton Mearns, Airdrie, Bonhill and Lenzie.


  • Near Rothbury in rural Northumberland

  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne

  • Gateshead, near Low Fell

  • Bishop Auckland in County Durham

  • Near Penrith in Cumbria

  • Middlesbrough

  • Hurst Green in Lancashire

  • Cleckheaton

  • Pocklington, near Hull

  • Near Crosby and Kirkby, Merseyside

  • Manchester

  • Near Maltby in South Yorkshire

  • Burton, Cheshire

  • Near Matlock in Derbyshire

  • Near Eakring in Nottinghamshire

  • Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire

  • Near Stafford in Staffordshire

  • Leicester

  • Upper Hambleton, near Oakham

  • Dereham near Norwich

  • Stowmarket near Ipswich

  • Near Willingham in Cambridgeshire

  • Kettering

  • Kenilworth near Coventry

  • Near the Oldbury area of Birmingham

  • Worcester

  • Hereford

  • Bristol

  • Near Bridgwater

  • Near Exeter

  • Near Dorchester

  • Newbury near Thatcham

  • New Alresford, near Winchester

  • Near Billingshurst

  • Dorking

  • Near Hailsham

  • Near Canterbury

  • Central London

  • Near Oxford

  • Welwyn Garden City near St Albans

  • Near Braintree

  • Stagsden near Bedford


  • Barry

  • Bridgend

  • Fishguard

  • Neath

  • Newport

  • Wrexham

Northern Ireland

A positive test for the new variant of Covid-19 has been detected in Northern Ireland, after genome analysis was conducted on a small number of suspected cases.

It is understood health officials believe the strain has been in circulation at a low level in Northern Ireland for several weeks.

But it has not been confirmed where in Northern Ireland the case was detected.

How Covid cases have risen across English regions. Credit: PA

Jeffrey Barrett, lead Covid-19 statistical geneticist at COG-UK warned that there was a lag in the sequence data being sampled.

The most recent data in the study was from the first week of December when England came out of the second national lockdown.

Dr Barrett said more up-to-date data from community testing also found one of the mutations of this variant is "present in very many different places in England".

Professor Tom Connor, a genomics expert from Cardiff University, said this was the same for Scotland, and Wales – which has sequenced more viruses in the past week than the whole of France since March.

Health chiefs in Cumbria have said the new variant is in the county and could be behind some sharp increases in new cases.

Director of public health for Cumbria Colin Cox said in the district of Eden rates had risen to 345 cases per 100,000 people, the highest seen in Cumbria to date.

Lancashire’s director of public health Sakthi Karunanithi said there was a “high likelihood” the new variant was in the county.

The data showed there had been a sample collected in Manchester after mayor Andy Burnham said there was no evidence the strain has reached the area but said what public health directors “want to emphasise is it is safe for people to assume that it is already here or it is about to arrive".

Sharon Peacock, director of COG-UK and a professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge said there was no evidence to suggest the new variant caused higher mortality, and no reason to believe the vaccine being rolled out in the UK will not be effective.

However, Prof Connor warned not enough time has passed to know whether the variant leads to a worse outcome for infected people.

He said: “When you’re talking about outcome you’re normally looking at 28 days after the person has been diagnosed – with a lot of these cases popping up in late December we’re not at that point where you would have that outcome information to do that analysis yet.”

Dr Barrett said 23 mutations of the virus were detected “all at once”, which is rare, suggesting it did not happen by coincidence.

He said: “It suggests that something happened – we don’t know what that something is, that produced this variant, and it doesn’t happen that often because we haven’t seen it before.

“I think the conjunction of very rapid spread and a lot of mutations makes this less and less likely to be just a coincidence.”

New variants have been found in other countries including South Africa, Denmark and the Netherlands which led to Germany banning travel from those countries.

The Cabinet’s Covid operations committee is meeting on Wednesday to consider the latest data on the spread of the virus.