Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there are no UK cases of the new coronavirus variant, found in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel, but that the Government is concerned it could “pose a substantial risk to public health”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid updated MPs on a new Covid-19 variant called B.1.1.529, which is “of huge international concern”.

He said it “is highly likely that it has now spread to other countries”.

Mr Javid went on: “We are concerned that this new variant may pose substantial risk to public health. The variant has an unusual large number of mutations. Yesterday the UK Health Security Agency classified B.1.1.529 as a new variant under investigation and the very technical group has designated it as a variant under investigation with very high priority.”

The Health Secretary added early indications show the current vaccines “may be less effective against it”.

More follows.