Coronavirus in Scotland: Brazilian Covid variant detected in UK a ‘concern’, says Prof Jason Leitch

Professor Jason Leitch.Professor Jason Leitch.
Professor Jason Leitch.
Reports that one of two Brazilian coronavirus variants has been detected in the UK is a cause for “concern”, Professor Jason Leitch has said.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, Scotland’s National Clinical director said: “The Brazilian strain is a concern, as is the UK mutation, as is the mutation from South Africa.

“We expect mutations to arrive, and we have to respond as and when they do.

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“Our genomic sequencing in this country is the best in the world – that’s why we can find if someone has this Brazilian strain here. And it’s why we’ve put in fairly draconian restrictions on travel.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman also spoke about the new travel restrictions introduced across the UK, saying “don’t travel at all if you can avoid it".

From today a ban on visitors coming to the UK from South America has been introduced – with this also applying to three other countries with strong links to Brazil – Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira, Panama, and Cape Verde.

The Health Secretary said anyone returning to Scotland from any of these countries would have to self-isolate for 10 days.

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But she added: “Our basic message on travel right now is a really simple one – don’t if you can possibly avoid it.

“That’s why it is illegal to travel to or from Scotland right now, unless it is for an essential purpose.”

Scotland has recorded 61 deaths of coronavirus patients and 2,160 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 5,227.

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Ms Freeman said the daily test positivity rate is 7.5%, down from 8.3% on Wednesday, when 1,707 positive cases were recorded.

A total of 159,239 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

There are 1,860 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up by 31 in 24 hours, with 141 of these in intensive care – down one in the same period.

She also announced that as of Thursday 224,840 people have received their first dose of a vaccine.

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