New Covid mutation in Bristol - latest after Bristol City Council gives briefing

A stock image of a Covid test being carried out.
A stock image of a Covid test being carried out. Credit: PA Images

Public health bosses in Bristol have moved to reassure people following the news a mutation of the Covid-19 virus is now in the city.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed there were 11 coronavirus cases involving 'mutations of concern' in Bristol on Tuesday 2 February.

Downing Street says it has "robustly" carried out contact tracing on all 11 of those cases.

The Health Secretary said additional testing would be rolled out in the city and said people should only leave home when "absolutely essential".

Watch Christina Gray's interview on ITV News West Country on February 2

But public health bosses in Bristol said there are no plans to ramp up testing and said people in the city will not face stricter stay at home rules, instead telling residents to follow national guidance.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees was joined by public health bosses in the briefing on Wednesday 3 February, which focused on the new Covid-19 variant which is a mutated form of the virus strain first found in Kent.

Although the Kent variant can be 70 per cent more transmissible than the original coronavirus, there is no evidence yet to suggest the Bristol mutation makes it even more transmissible.

Director of Public Health for Bristol Christina Gray said the overall picture in Bristol is good, with Covid cases falling by around five per cent each day.

She said she does not know exactly how many cases of the new variant there are, but it is over and above 11.

She said the cases are not a "tight cluster" but are scattered around the city and in South Gloucestershire. Extra testing and contact tracing is being carried out.

Dominic Mellon from Public Health England said there is no reason to think the new mutation makes the virus any more dangerous.

Will extra testing be brought in?

In other parts of the country where the South African variant as been found, door-to-door testing is being carried out.

Although Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons this regime would also apply in Bristol, Ms Gray says this was a "conflation". She said there are no immediate plans to introduce surge testing in Bristol, though it remains a possibility.

Are stricter lockdown measures in place?

When asked if people in Bristol should follow a stricter set of measures than the national rules, Ms Gray told ITV News West Country: "The advice for our area remains the same."

People should continue to follow the national lockdown rules and should not go out unless for daily exercise or essential travel.

Marvin Rees asked people to "stay calm", adding: "We just want people to realise that in the UK we have a great health service and they're looking out for our interests. And we will come through this."

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