Video report by Hannah Miller
Public Health England have found cases of a new coronavirus mutation in the Liverpool City Region and Warrington, but have said there is "no cause for alarm".
The strain, being referred to as E484K, is not thought to be more severe or transmissible than other variants of the virus which have been found in the UK.
Experts have said that the mutation may affect vaccine effectiveness, but that the current ones will still provide a high level of protection.
Cases of the "South African" variant have already been found in Liverpool and enhanced testing is in place in Southport, where cases have also been found.
Warrington Council have said that they will support increased contact tracing in the town.
The Lancashire Resilience Forum are also asking people in West Lancashire and Preston to get tests after cases of the mutation have been found there.
Thara Raj, Warrington’s director of public health, said: "Understandably, some residents may be concerned about cases of this new COVID-19 variant in Warrington, but all viruses mutate over time so this shouldn’t cause any further alarm.
"We are monitoring the situation closely and all necessary public health interventions are being undertaken, including enhanced contact tracing and control measures. We will continue to monitor this variant with our partners."
Health officials are asking people to be vigilant and to stick to the prevention basics of washing your hands regularly, wearing a face-covering when appropriate and keeping a safe distance from others.
Lancashire Resilience Forum said that symptoms of the new mutation include mild flu or cold-like symptoms and headaches.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health and wellbeing at Lancashire County Council, said: "If you live in Preston or West Lancashire and you're feeling under the weather, please get a Covid test."It doesn't matter if you don't have the three classic symptoms of a fever, loss of taste or smell, or a cough – even a headache could be an indication you may have this mutation."
People are also being asked to book a Covid-19 test if they have any symptoms and to self-isolate immediately.
Information on how to book a test can be found here.
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