A POSITIVE cases of the South African variant of COVID-19 has been found in Hampshire. 

Hampshire County Council has today confirmed that a case of the variant (VUI – 202012/01) has been located in the Bramley area, north of Basingstoke.

The South African strain is not believed to be more deadly than the initial strain, but it is known to spread more quickly than the initial strain.

All viruses mutate over time and new variants emerge regularly.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer vaccine would not protect people against the new variant.

Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health at Hampshire County Council said: “I appreciate that this news may be worrying for the local community, but it’s really important to understand that the risk of transmission from this single case is considered to be very low, helped by the fact that national restrictions are in place with most people staying at home and adhering to the Government guidance of ‘hands-face-space ’.

"Furthermore, there is no evidence that this particular variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccines do not protect against it.

“Following confirmation of the case and in line with Government guidelines, the County Council has begun work with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Public Health England, our local NHS, as well as the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), to arrange a localised ‘surge testing’ programme in the area. This is due to begin next week.

“The rapid local testing programme is primarily a precautionary measure designed to help the Government to better understand and prevent the spread of new variants across the country.”