Mutated virus variant from S.Africa in UK - health minister

South Africa's health department said last week that a new genetic mutation of the virus had been discovered and might be responsible for a recent surge in infections there.

"We've detected two cases of another new variant of coronavirus here in the UK," Hancock told a media briefing.

"Both are contacts of cases who have traveled from South Africa over the past few weeks."

Britain is already trying to curb the spread of a mutated strain of the virus which is up to 70% more transmissible, and further studies aerie being carried out on the new variant.

Video Transcript

- And again, if we just look at--

MATT HANCOCK: We've detected two cases of another new variant of coronavirus here in the UK. Both are cases-- both are contacts of cases who have traveled from South Africa over the past few weeks.

--joy to tell you that the Chelsea pensioners will be vaccinated along with--

This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK.

We've taken the following action. First, we are quarantining cases and close contacts of cases found here in the UK. Second, we are placing immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa. And finally and most importantly, anyone in the UK who has been in South Africa in the past fortnight and anyone who is a close contact of someone who's been in South Africa in the last fortnight quarantine immediately.