A NEW variant of the covid-19 virus has been identified in England.

Over 1,000 cases of coronavirus involving the new mutation have been confirmed across the country.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that the mutation may be linked to the faster spread in the South of England, but could not be certain.

Speaking about the virus, Mr Hancock said: “Over the last few days, thanks to our world-class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the faster spread in the South of England.

“Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants.

“We’ve currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the South of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas.

“And numbers are increasing rapidly.”

The new variant has been recorded in countries across Europe, and there is currently no evidence that the vaccine will be any less effective on the mutated strain.

Mr Hancock added: “I must stress at this point that there is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease and the latest clinical advice is that it’s highly unlikely that this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine, but it shows we’ve got to be vigilant and follow the rules and everyone needs to take personal responsibility not to spread this virus.”

In his statement, the Health Secretary confirmed that London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be moved to Tier 3 restrictions at midnight on Wednesday.