It has been confirmed that Boris Johnson is to hold a televised Downing Street press conference to update the nation this evening at 5pm.
The Prime Minister will be joined by Sir Partick Vallance and Chris Whitty.
The UK government’s third televised update of the week comes as ministers are under increasing pressure to address the subject of people entering the UK from abroad.
It also comes after it was confirmed this morning that one of two Brazilian coronavirus (COVID-19) variants was detected in the UK ahead of ministers banning the arrival of travellers from South America to limit the spread of a concerning new strain, with Professor Wendy Barclay – who is advising the government’s COVID-19 response – saying the variant may have been “introduced some time ago”, but it was unclear whether it was this strain that prompted the ban.
Professor Barclay – Head of the G2P-UK National Virology Consortium, a new project set up to study the effects of emerging coronavirus mutations – added: “There are two different types of Brazilian variants and one of them has been detected and one of them has not.
“In the databases, if you search the sequences, you will see that there is some evidence for variants from around the world, and I believe including the Brazilian one, which probably was introduced some time ago.
“That will be being traced very carefully.”
The restrictions come into force at 4am on Monday in response to the new variant.
Professor Barclay’s comments followed those of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who said he was “not aware” of any cases of the strain that led him to impose the restrictions – which also covers Portugal due to its strong links with Brazil.
Earlier, Mr Shapps described the ban – which includes an exemption for British and Irish nationals – as a “precautionary” measure to ensure the vaccination programme rolling out across the UK was not disrupted by new variants of the virus.
When asked if the Brazilian strain was currently in the country, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Not as far as we are aware, I think, at this stage.
“There hasn’t been any flights that I can see from the last week from Brazil, for example.”
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.