Matt Hancock to host briefing after Brazilian variant discovered

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock is set to lead a briefing on coronavirus this afternoon, after cases of the Brazilian variant were discovered in the UK.

Mr Hancock will host a Downing Street briefing at 5pm and is likely to be joined by scientists or other health officials.

The briefing will be televised as usual, with the press and public getting to ask questions following the updates.

The Health Secretary will be speaking after six cases of the new variant were discovered in the UK.

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The strain was first found in the Brazilian city of Manaus, with fears the new variant may spread more rapidly and respond less well to existing vaccines.

Public Health England (PHE) said on Sunday that six cases of the concerning P.1 variant first detected in the Brazilian city have been confirmed in Britain, three in England and three in Scotland.

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Two were confirmed in South Gloucestershire but the third English case has not been located and could be anywhere in the nation, as PHE says the person did not complete their test registration card so their contact details are unavailable.

Anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and has not received a result, or has an uncompleted test registration card, is being asked to come forward immediately.

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Critics said the development exposed the "weaknesses" in the border protections against new strains and condemned the Government for delaying toughening restrictions.

The Gloucestershire cluster was said to originate from one individual who travelled back from Brazil and arrived in London on February 10 – five days before the Government's quarantine hotel policy came into force.

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