British health officials are looking for a person in England who was among six people who contracted the so-called Brazilian variant of the coronavirus, more than two weeks after testing positive.
The highly contagious strain of coronavirus, known as P1, was first identified in the Brazilian city of Manaus.
Finding anyone infected with the variant is seen as an essential step in preventing a larger outbreak.
It is understood that the yet-to-be-identified did not fill out their details on a form after taking a home coronavirus test on February 12 or 13.
Authorities have information about the other five people, two of whom are from a household in southern Gloucestershire, England, and have travel history to Brazil, while three cases have been recorded in Scotland.
A relative from South Gloucestershire had arrived in London on February 10, having flown from Sao Paulo to Brazil via Zurich.
Health officials followed the other passengers on board this flight, to test them and their households.
The three people in Scotland had all flown from Brazil to Aberdeen, via Paris and London, and had isolated themselves for the required period of 10 days.
Scientists say the variant is more transmissible and may be more resistant to existing vaccines than the first wave virus first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
In their attempt to locate the sixth person, officials are asking anyone who took a test on February 12 or 13 and has not yet received a result, or anyone with an incomplete test registration card, to report back. demonstrate immediately.
“If you took a test on February 12 or 13, [and] You have not had your results, please contact us, ”Nadhim Zahawi, the minister responsible for immunization, told British Times radio on Monday.
“We are working with the postal system to try to locate them,” he added.
The UK imposed a 10-day hotel quarantine on people arriving from high-risk countries, including Brazil, on February 15. Previously, arrivals to the UK had to self-isolate at home for 10 days.
Zahawi said it was not yet clear whether the unidentified person had recently been overseas or not, meaning it was not certain whether she would have isolated herself while she was infected.
Vaccine efficacy issues
The public appeal came a week before England began lifting its third national lockdown, with progress linked to the UK’s mass vaccination campaign.
As of Sunday, more than 20 million people had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – just over 30% of the population, while around 800,000 had received a second dose.
The surge comes as manufacturers try to tailor their vaccines to fight worrying mutations in the virus, which have seen cases increase.
Besides the Brazilian variant, the so-called South African and British variants raise concerns.
The Brazilian and South African variants have the E484K mutation, which occurs on the spike protein of the virus. The mutation is believed to help the virus escape antibodies and get past the body’s immune defenses.
Adam Finn, a member of the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said evidence suggests existing vaccines were “less effective” against the Brazilian and South African variants in terms of “at least reducing mild disease and possibly transmission ”.
“We are optimistic that vaccines will continue to prevent serious disease, but the evidence is still quite limited,” Finn told the BBC on Monday.