Covid: Matt Hancock leading coronavirus press conference as hunt for Brazil variant goes on

Matt Hancock is leading a coronavirus press conference Monday evening, as officials continue to hunt for a case of a Covid-19 variant, first identified in Brazil, that has emerged in the UK but cannot be located.

The health secretary is joined by Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director at Public Health England.

Mr Hancock is expected to provide an update on how the emergence of the Brazilian Covid-19 strain, also known as the P.1 variant, impacts on the UK's battle with the pandemic.

He will also give an update on the UK's vaccination programme after the UK inoculated 20 million people.

The Brazilian variant has been designated “of concern” as the strain shares key mutations with the variant detected in South Africa, which is more transmissible than the original strain.

Critics have attacked the government for being slow to implement mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals to the UK, with the long-awaited policy being brought in just five days before someone arrived while infected with the variant.

Questions have also been raised as to how the variant was allowed to escape into the community without the carrier being told to self-isolate.

The explanation given is that the person did not complete their test registration card so their contact details are absent, according to Public Health England.

Anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and has not received a result, or has an uncompleted test registration card, is being asked to come forward immediately, as health officials scramble to track down the individual.Surge testing will be carried out in the Bradley Stoke, Patchway and Little Stoke areas of South Gloucestershire. Two cases of the variant were found in South Gloucestershire and three others in north east Scotland - all of these have been instructed to self-isolate.

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