A nationwide hunt is on in the United Kingdom for a person said to be infected with the very virulent strain of the ‘Brazil COVID-19 P-1 variant’.
Alarm bells went off after it was discovered that the person is one of six who had arrived in the UK recently from Brazil where the variant was first noticed and is blamed for numerous infections and deaths.
The other five people have been identified and are in isolation but their whereabouts of the sixth remains unknown.
Authorities are said to be particularly concerned as the P-1 variant is said to be resistant to current vaccines, although British health experts say they are confident that the new vaccines can be tweaked to combat this new strain.
However, the challenge lies in manufacturing sufficient quantities and embarking on another round of vaccinations should the P-1 variant take hold.
According to reports, the individual being sought might have used a home testing kit but did not complete the required documentation when they returned their sample.
Authorities are now frantically searching for anyone who submitted a COVID-19 home test on February 12th or 13th and are awaiting a result.
The UK’s national health agency, Public Health England (PHE), said that of the six cases identified, three were located in Scotland and three in England.
However, only two of those in England, traced to the county of Gloucestershire in the southwest, have so far been identified.
This has also raised further questions about the effectiveness of the government’s costly track and trace system and the new compulsory hotel quarantine system which only came into effect in mid-February.
Brazil on a list of 33 red-flagged countries from where international travellers arriving in the UK are required to go into quarantine at their own expense.
The UK’s newly-appointed Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has raised further concerns when he said the government was still unclear whether or not the unidentified person had recently been abroad.
This has led to questions of whether the individual could have been circulating in the community thereby increasing the urgency of identifying, locating and quarantining the carrier.
Comparisons are being drawn to South Korea where a COVID-19 outbreak last year was traced to a single infected person.