The UK Government have announced a further 1,295 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the official UK total to 88,590. This grim figure comes as a top scientist claims the Brazilian Covid variant is likely to be in the British isles.
However, separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 104,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK, according to PA.
There have also been a further 41,346 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 3,357,361.
A concerning new strain of coronavirus is likely to already be in the UK despite the Government imposing a travel ban from affected countries, a leading epidemiologist has warned.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he would find it “unusual” if the second of two new variants from Brazil was not already present, despite it not yet being detected.
The first variant has a small number of mutations and eight genomically confirmed cases of this variant have been identified in the UK.
The second, which has been detected in Manaus and in travellers arriving in Japan, has not been detected in the UK so far.
The Government banned flights from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde on Thursday in response to the emergence of the new variant, having previously banned travel from South Africa because of a new Covid strain.
In addition, all quarantine-free travel into the UK will be suspended on Monday in a bid to keep out other variants.
The new policy means arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK.
Prof Edmunds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In terms of the South African one, we had imported cases already by the time we put in additional restrictions for South African travellers.
“For the Brazilian one… I don’t think there is evidence that we’ve imported cases of the Manaus strain, as far as I’m aware at least, but it is likely that we probably have quite honestly.
“We are one of the most connected countries in the world so I would find it unusual if we hadn’t imported some cases into the UK.”
Labour accused the Government of “closing the door after the horse has bolted”, saying the announcement was too late to have stopped the arrival of “worrying” strains.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told ministers to get a “comprehensive plan and to act in a proper, strategic way, not in the short-term chaotic way we’ve seen over the past twelve months”.