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South Africa is struggling to contain a new strain of the coronavirus, which is more infectious and spreading among young people.
The variant, referred to as 501.V2, has now detected in the UK and is thought to be more transmissible.
Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the chairman of the South African Government’s ministerial advisory committee (MAC), earlier warned it is spreading faster than South Africa’s first wave.
The strain makes up approximately 80-90% of new cases in the country.
A much higher viral load – a greater amount of the virus – has been picked up in nasal swabs taken from patients suffering from the variant.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announced: "This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant has been discovered in the UK."
The Government will quarantine those who have tested positive and their close contacts in the UK.
Hancock added: “Second, we're placing immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa.
"And finally, the Government is asking anyone in the UK, who has been in South Africa, in the past fortnight, and anyone who has had close contact with someone who's been in South Africa, in the last fortnight, to immediately quarantine."
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, reassured Brits that there was no evidence that the vaccine would not work against the new variant.
She said: “We have no evidence at the moment that the vaccine will not work, actually what that means, in fact, is that there’s strong evidence that it will work because the vaccine produces a strong immune response and it’s broad and acts against lots of variation in the virus.
“What we are doing is laboratory studies with people who have had previous infection and who have had vaccine to look and see in the laboratory how their blood kills the virus.
“Those take a number of weeks as we grow the virus and do those studies. As soon as they are available, we will of course release them.”
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