Fears Brazil variant of Covid-19 could delay lifting of lockdown
The new variant could delay Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown
The Brazilian variant of coronavirus which one mystery Brit has tested positive for could potentially delay the United Kingdom's roadmap out of lockdown, according to a prominent scientist.
Professor Graham Medley, who sits on SAGE, the group of scientists which advises the government, has warned that the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 is a "concern".
His warning comes as a search is underway to discover the identity of a person who has tested positive for the variant, but didn't leave contact details for tracing.
Five other people in the UK are understood to have tested positive for the variant, but all five have been contacted and followed quarantine protocol.
Speaking during an interview with the BBC, he said: "It is a variant of concern, but we are going to be faced with these in the next six months as we move towards relaxing measures.
"There are going to be challenges on the way and there is always a risk that we might have to go backwards, and that's what nobody wants to do is to actually open up and then have to close down again.
"So monitoring these variants, keeping an eye on in terms of what they actually do - so sequencing, for example, viruses in hospitals - I think is a crucial step to know whether or not this variant and other variants in the future, what impact they're actually having."
Early last week, the prime minister set out his four-step roadmap for the emergence of society from lockdown, with schools reopening on March 8th, outdoor beer gardens reopening on April 12 and, eventually, an end to all limits on social contact by June 21st.