Boris Johnson calls emergency meeting about new Covid strain | Coronavirus

Boris Johnson called ministers for an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss how to address serious concerns about the new strain of coronavirus identified in parts of south-east England.

The variant is thought to be more contagious and could hinder the introduction of loops of travel between the southeast, including London, and the rest of the country, according to reports, but ministers asked that no decisions had been made.

Health secretary Matt Hancock raised concerns earlier in the week about the new snoring as he announced that a large area of ​​the southeast would be placed under the harshest, level 3 restrictions.

Government scientists are understood to have given ministers new evidence about the behavior of this change. A government official said: “There are concerns that it is more mobile than the current pressure – and that awareness is hardening.”

Announcements could be made as early as Saturday as ministers plan to try to contain the new threat, with particular concerns about the dangers of cross-UK travel in the run-up to Christmas. .

Professor Sir Mark Walport – a member of the government’s scientific advisory body for emergencies (Sage) – said there was a real chance the strain could have a “referral benefit”.

“Viruses cause them to move naturally all the time and those that are more likely to do good are those that increase transmission,” he told Newsnight. on BBC2. “We know this is a new version, it has been seen in other countries but it seems to be very widespread which shows that it has benefited from distribution. Scientists are working hard to find out what’s going on. But it seems possible that this spreads more easily. It will make the social distance even more important. ”

Hancock told the Commons Monday that cases of the opposite have been found in nearly 60 districts. He said: “Over the last few days, due to our global genomic potential in the UK, we have identified a new strain of coronavirus that may be associated with the fastest spread there. southeast of England.

“Initial research shows that this trend is growing faster than the current variable. We have currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variation, particularly in the south of England, although cases have been identified in almost 60 local authority areas and numbers are rising. quickly.

“Similar changes have been noted in other countries over the last few months. We have contacted the World Health Organization and Public Health England is working hard to continue their expert study at Porton Down. ”

Hancock said: “I must confirm at this stage that there is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious infection and the latest clinical advice is that the mutation is unlikely to respond. this to vaccination.

“But it shows that we need to be vigilant and follow the rules and everyone must take personal responsibility for not spreading this virus.”

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, had denied the introduction of phase 3 in London and surrounding areas because of the variation at a Downing Street press conference. Monday.

He said there was no evidence that the symptoms are different or worse or that different Covid-19 tests are needed.