New coronavirus strain ‘potentially concerning’

Scottish Government considering whether new measures are needed after rise in cases in southern England.

New coronavirus strain ‘potentially concerning’ Getty Images

A new strain of coronavirus is a “potentially concerning development”, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon warned that the Scottish Government was considering whether any measures were needed.

Cases are rising sharply in the southern England as a result of the new strain, the UK health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on Monday.

Sturgeon said she had received a briefing from the interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith.

She wrote on Twitter: “The Scottish Government will be monitoring closely. We will also consider whether any additional precautions are required meantime.”

Hancock said the number of cases involving the new variant was “increasing rapidly”.

Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants, he said.

“We’ve currently identified over 1000 cases with this variant predominantly in the south of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas.”

The health secretary said there was nothing to suggest the variant was more likely to cause serious disease and he suggested the vaccine should still be effective.

“But it shows we’ve got to be vigilant and follow the rules and everyone needs to take personal responsibility not to spread this virus,” he said.

Care home residents in Scotland began to receive the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.

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