The search for an unidentified sixth person in the UK who tested positive for a coronavirus variant first found in Brazil has been narrowed to under 400 households in south-east England, Matt Hancock has revealed.
The mystery individual tested positive more than two weeks ago but failed to give proper contact details.
"Our search has narrowed from the whole country down to 379 households in the south-east of England, and we're contacting each one," the health secretary told the Commons on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Hancock said surge testing was underway in South Gloucestershire, where two cases of the Brazilian variant of coronavirus have been identified. Three other cases have been identified in Scotland.
Meanwhile a new study has suggested the variant could cause reinfection for between 25 per cent and 61 per cent of people who have previously had Covid.
Research on the P1 variant among people living in the Brazilian city of Manaus found potentially high levels of reinfection, and that the variant was more transmissible than the original pandemic strain.
British experts have cautioned that the study cannot be used to predict what may happen in the UK, and say it does not suggest that vaccines will not work against the variant.
To date, six cases of the Manaus variant have been found in England and Scotland, with experts still hunting for one of the six who tested positive.