New Covid variant: How many cases have there been of the new ‘Yorkshire’ variant?

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Over the course of the pandemic, new Covid variants have developed across the world. The variant first detected in India has caused local outbreaks in parts of the UK in recent weeks. Now Public Health England (PHE) has announced it is investigating a new Covid variant known as VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1.

What is the new Covid variant?

Public Health England said it had been monitoring VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1 since April of this year.

Cases of the variant so far have predominantly been recorded in Yorkshire and the Humber.

But PHE said earlier this week there is “currently no evidence” the variant causes more severe disease, or that it “renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective”.

Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said his team had been monitoring the new strain “as we do with all outbreaks across the city”.

He said: “Please don’t be alarmed, we want you to continue doing what you have been for the past year.

“Follow the guidance, continue to wash your hands regularly and wear a mask indoors.

“Where cases have been identified, additional follow-up of cases, testing of contacts and targeted case-finding will be used to limit the spread of variants.”

The new VUI-21MAY-01 variant is currently listed as a “variant under investigation” by UK health authorities, a label shared with several other Covid variants at the current time.

But if the situation is deemed necessary, authorities will classify the variant as a “variant of concern”.

Variants such as those first found in South Africa and India are currently classified as variants of concern in the UK.

Downing Street said the emergence of the new variant of coronavirus in Yorkshire will continue to be monitored.

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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There have been a number of variants throughout the pandemic and there will continue to be so.

“There are three mutations of the B.1.617 strain, as I think has been discussed previously, but as we do with all variants where we spot and identify them through our genomic sequencing programme, we will continue to monitor them and we will designate them as variants under investigation, and then variants of concern if we deem them to be of greater risk.

“But again, as you’ve seen throughout the pandemic, that’s what we’ve done and we won’t hesitate to put in measures that we think are necessary to try and tackle the transmission of any variants.”

How many cases have there been of the new ‘Yorkshire’ variant?

According to Government data, there have been 49 confirmed cases of the VUI-21MAY-01 variant in the UK.

To date, all of the cases identified have been recorded in England and not in any other UK nations.

PHE continues to advise that anyone in the UK with symptoms of COVID-19 should get a PCR test as soon as possible and follow the guidance on self-isolation.

On May 21 the UK reported 2,829 new cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.

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