New COVID-19 variant found in Bristol

Testing in Bristol is being ramped up after a mutated form of the Covid-19 variant first found in Kent was confirmed in the city.

This follows the announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday that there had been 11 confirmed cases of the new mutated form of the virus in Bristol.

He said people living in the city should not leave their homes unless they have an ‘absolutely essential’ reason.

Today (February 3) Mayor Marvin Rees held a briefing to discuss the mutation.

He was joined by Bristol’s Public Health Director Christina Gray and Acting Deputy Director of Health Protection at Public Health England South West, Dominic Mellon.

Investigations are under way to understand if this form of the virus has spread further in the area and there are plans for extra testing.

Bristol’s Public Health Director Christina Gray.

In a statement Ms Gray said: “These new cases have been identified following the proactive sequencing work carried out by colleagues in Public Health England.

“Their early detection of this mutated form of the virus that first appeared in Kent means we can respond swiftly to ramp up testing in the area to better understand the local situation.

“We’re already working with colleagues in health agencies to identify the additional testing we need and how best to deliver this effectively. When plans are ready it will be vital that everyone who is asked to take a test does so promptly. 

“Whilst this news will raise concerns and bring uncertainty for many, it remains true that everyone must continue to follow national guidance and lockdown rules. 

“We must continue to do the most we can to prevent the transmission of this virus by washing our hands, wearing our masks, avoid mixing socially with people outside of our household and self-isolating when needed.

“These are the behaviours that will protects us and each other from this virus. 

“We will continue to draw up plans for additional local testing and share this information when it is ready. In the meantime I urge everyone to focus on their own behaviours and continue to follow public health guidance.” 

As well as staying home, there are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, including: 

  • washing your hands more often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food 
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands 
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms 
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands 
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home. 

For more information about the latest guidance visit bristol.gov.uk/coronavirus