More coronavirus “mutations of concern” have been found in the South West, Matt Hancock has confirmed.
The Health Secretary said 11 cases were discovered in Bristol, but did not give details of what variant or mutation the cases had or whether there was any increased risk.
However, he told the House of Commons about the cases after describing cases of the South Africa variant in the UK.
Addressing MPs in the House of Commons earlier today, Mr Hancock said: “In those areas where this (South African) variant has been found – parts of Broxbourne, London, Maidstone and Southport, Walsall and Woking – we’re putting in extra testing and sequencing every positive test.
“Working with local authorities we’re going door to door to test everyone in those areas and mobile testing units will be deployed offering PCR tests to people who have to leave their home for work or other essential reasons.
“We have also seen 11 cases of mutations of concern in Bristol and 32 in Liverpool, and are taking the same approach. In all these areas it is imperative that people must stay at home and only leave home where it is absolutely essential.”
Mr Hancock told the Commons the aim of the UK in relation to the South Africa variant of Covid-19 must be to “stop its spread altogether”.
He added: “As with the variant first identified here in the UK there is currently no evidence to suggest it is any more severe but we have to come down on it hard.
“Our mission must be to stop its spread altogether and break those chains of transmission.”
Downing Street said people in the areas with cases of the South African coronavirus variant should “do everything they can” to avoid contact with others.
Asked whether they should use up tinned or frozen food rather than buy fresh produce, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are asking everybody across the country to stay at home except for a small number of exemptions, one of which is to go shopping for food and essential items.
“I would repeat what the Health Secretary said yesterday, that those in the postcodes that we set out should be extremely cautious and should do everything they can to minimise contact.”
Earlier today it was revealed the Kent variant had mutated to take on attributes of the South Africa strain which make it harder for the vaccine to combat.