A NEW variant which has ripped through South America has been found in the UK.
Six cases of the Lambda variant have been discovered in Britain – all of which have been linked to overseas travel.
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Public Health England this morning declared it as a Covid Variant Under Investigation.
The earliest documented sample was reported in Peru and Lambda has been sequenced in 26 countries to date, PHE said, although other reports claim it has been found in 29 countries.
Lambda (C.37) is now being watched, due to several notable mutations including L452Q and F490S.
The World Health Organisation classified Lambda as a global Variant of Interest on 14 June.
WHO said it has mutations that increase transmissible or strengthen antibody resistance, although there is not enough evidence to know for certain.
PHE is carrying out laboratory testing to better understand the impact of mutations on the behaviour of the virus.
In Peru, where it was first seen, Lambda now makes up 81 per cent of the cases there.
It has spread to Chile, making up 32 per cent of cases in the last 60 days, and Argentina and Ecuador have both reported more prevalence.
Peru has suffered greatly with a huge death toll from Covid – which was revised following a review.
It is the country with the world’s highest death rate per capita, according to John Hopkins University data.
The Lambda variant has been circulating there since August, and is now the dominant variant.
It comes as Delta variant cases in the UK have risen by 35,204 this week – as a new strain is under investigation.
There have now been a total of 111,157 recorded infections of the mutation in Britain.
Public Health England said this is a 46 per cent increase on the week before, with around 95 per cent of all UK Covid cases as the Delta variant.
An extra 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with Covid up to June 21 – 304 were unvaccincated.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency said: “Through the success of our vaccination programme, data suggest we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations.
“This is hugely encouraging news, but we cannot become complacent.
“Two doses of vaccine are far more effective against Covid-19 than a single dose, so please make sure that you come forward to get your second dose as soon as you are invited.
“Whilst vaccines provide excellent protection, they do not provide total protection, so it is still as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution.
“Protect yourself and the people around you by working from home where possible, and by practising ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times.”