Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 60 different local authorities had registered Covid infections caused by the new variant, the BBC reported on Monday.
He said the World Health Organization had been notified and scientists in the UK were conducting detailed studies.
He said there was “nothing to suggest” that it would cause more serious illness or that the vaccines would no longer work.
He told House of Commons MPs that there had been strong and exponential increases in coronavirus infections in London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire over the past week.
“We have now identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the south of England, although cases have been identified in almost 60 different areas of local authorities.
“We do not know to what extent this is due to the new variant, but regardless of its cause, we must take swift and decisive action, which unfortunately is absolutely essential to control this deadly disease while the vaccine is being launched.”
The medical director of England, Prof. Chris Whitty, said that current coronavirus tamponade tests will detect the new variant that has been found mainly in Kent and neighboring areas in recent weeks.
The changes or mutations involve the virus’s spike protein – the part that helps it infect cells, and the target Covid vaccines are designed around it.
It is too early to know exactly what this will do to the behavior of the virus.
Prof Alan McNally, an expert at the University of Birmingham, told the BBC: “Let’s not be hysterical. It does not mean that it is more transmissible, more infectious or dangerous.
“It’s something you have to keep an eye on.
“Huge efforts are underway to characterize the variant and understand its occurrence. It is important to keep a calm and rational perspective on the strain, as this is a normal evolution of the virus and we expect new variants to come and go and appear. in time.”
Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, said it is potentially serious. “Surveillance and research must continue and we must take the necessary steps to stay ahead of the virus.”
There is a simple rule for understanding all the “new strains” or “new variants”: ask if the behavior of the virus has changed.
This is crucial because viruses move all the time, that’s exactly what they do. And so far we have been given the “scare”, but not the “answer”.
Matt Hancock said the new variant of the coronavirus “could be associated” with the faster spread in the south-east of England.
This is not the same as saying that it “causes” growth, and Hancock did not say that this virus has evolved to spread more easily from person to person.
New strains may become more common for reasons unrelated to the virus.
One explanation for the appearance of the “Spanish strain” during the summer was tourism.
So right now there are scary headlines everywhere, but there are still no scientific details to know how significant this is.