Mutant coronavirus variant identified in Cumbria

  • Video report by Ralph Blunsom

Cases of a new variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Cumbria, the county's director of public health has revealed.

It comes as Christmas restrictions were toughened for England, amid growing concerns about the mutant virus spreading in the country.

The Prime Minister announced on Saturday last minute plans from the government to scrap the festive travel window between December 23-27.

During a press conference in Downing Street on Saturday afternoon, Boris Johnson said there was "no evidence" it was any more severe strain or could cause more mortality but it "does spread more easily".

Director of public health Colin Cox has today told ITV Border that there was been cases detected in Cumbria. He said: "The cases that we know about have mainly been in the Carlisle area but as I say it's been a very small handful where we've seen the genetic typing through. 

"But we are also seeing some very unusual patterns of spread in some other parts of the county - particularly in Eden, for example, where we've had a small number of outbreaks that have had an awful lot of people affected by them.

"That's the sort of thing you might expect to see with this new strain, so while we don't know this yet, it's entirely possible that it's more widespread throughout the county."

More on this as we get it.