Mirror Online: LONDON, England – Scientists who sequenced its genome detected samples taken at 45 places in England, six in Scotland and six in Wales.
The COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) monitoring group had identified the significance of VUI-202012/01 which is thought to have originated in the South East.
They have now revealed full extent of its spread with cases in Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.
Locations near the cities of Leeds, Oxford, Coventry and Cambridge also produced samples.
The Scottish cases were mainly clustered around Glasgow while Wales had cases in Swansea, Newport and near Cardiff.
These cases could only be a snapshot of the real picture as not all COVID-19 patients have samples taken so their virus can have its genome sequenced.
Experts are currently analysing 3,000 samples suspected of being the new variant.
Public Health England had only previously announced 1,000 confirmed cases.
Jeffrey Barrett, lead statistical geneticist at COG-UK, said there was a time lag so the data was from the first week of December when England came out of the second national lockdown.
He said: “They’re relatively small numbers but I think it is important to be aware that it is certainly not the case that this is just completely geographically constrained to what is the current Tier 4 area.”
Britain areas where the new COVID strain has been identified according to latest data:
- A cluster of six in Glasgow and in the surrounding areas of Linwood, Newton Mearns, Airdrie, Bonhill and Lenzie.
- Near Rothbury in rural Northumberland
- In Newcastle-upon-Tyne and in Gateshead, near Low Fell.
- Bishop Auckland in County Durham
- Near Penrith in Cumbria
- Hurst Green in Lancashire
- In Pocklington, near Hull
- Two areas in the north of Merseyside, near Crosby and Kirkby
- One area of central Manchester
- Near Maltby in South Yorkshire
- One area in Wrexham and one in Burton, Cheshire
- Near Matlock in Staffordshire
- Near Eakring in Nottinghamshire
- Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire
- Near Stafford in Staffordshire
- In the Leicester area
- Upper Hambleton, near Oakham
- Dereham near Norwich
- Stowmarket near Ipswich
- Near Willingham in Cambridgeshire
- In Kettering
- In Kenilworth near Coventry
- Near the Oldbury area of Birmingham
- In Worcester
- In Hereford
- In Fishguard, Neath, Bridgend, Barry and Newport
- In Bristol
- Near Bridgwater and near Exeter
- Close to Dorchester on the south coast
- In Newbury near Thatcham
- In New Alresford, near Winchester
- Near Billingshurst
- In Dorking
- Near Hailsham
- Near Canterbury (where strain is thought to have originated)
- In central London
- Near Oxford
- In Welwyn Garden City near St Albans
- Near Braintree
- In Stagsden near Bedford
The new variant led to London and parts of southern and eastern England being rushed into the new Tier 4 regime at the weekend, effectively cancelling Christmas plans and imposing measures similar to previous national lockdowns.
Dr Barrett said more up-to-date data from community testing also found one of the mutations of this variant.
He said: “It is certainly not isolated in one place, it has begun to spread to many places.”
One of the Government’s scientific advisers warned Britain faces a “human disaster” unless ministers impose stricter restrictions amid speculation of a full New Year lockdown.
Prof Robert West, who sits on SAGE’s behaviour science panel, said the Government’s current methods were unlikely to contain ]the spread of COVID-19.
Professor West, a psychologist at University College London, added: “It sounds expensive but the alternative could well be a catastrophic collapse in confidence in the country’s ability to control the virus and the economic, human and social disaster that would follow.”
- Top Feature Photo: Daily Mirror