The variant – also known as B.1.617 – was first noted internationally in October and first identified in the UK on February 22. It has 13 mutations including two in the virus’ spike protein known as E494Q and L452R.
Public Health England (PHE) said this morning three cases of the Indian variant were found in Leicester in the East Midlands.
Public health officials are not conducting surge testing or mass testing of communities as all cases are all linked to travel from the country.
It is understood the cases originated from passengers who travelled into the UK before India was officially added to the UK’s coronavirus travel red list.
As of 4am last Friday, people returning from India must quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days, while anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen will be banned from entering the country if they have been in India in the previous 10 days.
PHE experts are currently unsure whether any of the mutations mean the variant can be transmitted more easily, is more deadly or can evade the effectiveness of vaccines or natural immunity.
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