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New coronavirus strain identified in Ipswich, health officials confirm

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A new strain of Covid-19 detailed by health secretary Matt Hancock earlier this week is in Ipswich, it has been confirmed.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble confirmed in Friday’s local outbreak engagement board meeting that the new variant, called VUI-202012/01, had been identified locally.

He said: “They identified a new strain of the virus, originally in and around the Kent and south east area.

Ipswich town centre. Picture by Mark Westley
Ipswich town centre. Picture by Mark Westley

“We are still trying to learn more about that but there were a report from Public Health England that they had identified some of this new strain in Ipswich, in Norwich and in Cambridge.

“Nationally this strain they believe is more infectious but not more dangerous in that sense, but obviously it can lead to more rapid spread.

“We need to understand more of that, and all of the actions with hands, face, space, and following the guidance around self isolation all count. We are trying to understand that situation as it evolves.”

As of December 13, there were 1,108 cases involving the new strain nationally, largely across the south east and east of England and over 60 different local authority areas.

The British Medical Journal this week reported that the new strain, first spotted in September and believed to have originated in the UK, now accounts for 20 per cent of virus cases in Norfolk, 10 per cent in Essex and three per cent in Suffolk.

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