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The variant, which was identified on Tuesday, initially sparked concern because it carries an “extremely high humber” of mutations. It is feared to be more transmissible, meaning the country will be placed on England’s red travel list.

As well as placing the country on the red list and banning flights from Friday, officials are reviewing a number of travel measures including whether there should be a limited reintroduction of the use of PCR tests for arrivals.

This is because their results can be tested for variants.

No cases have yet been identified in the UK but hundreds of people who have recently arrived from the country are being contacted by public health teams.

There have been nearly 100 confirmed cases in South Africa, but the country’s health minister is said to believe there are many more due to a surge of cases.

More to follow…

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