The World Health Organisation says it is looking at a new variant of COVID-19 that has emerged in the United Kingdom.
But, it says there is no evidence the strain behaves differently to existing types of the virus.
“We are aware of this genetic variant reported in 1000 individuals in England,” the WHO’s top emergencies expert Mike Ryan told a news briefing in Geneva.
“Authorities are looking at its significance. We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time.”
It comes as UK authorities announce London will be placed in the toughest tier of restrictions from Wednesday morning following a sharp rise in coronavirus infection rates.
The UK capital London and parts of southeast England will be put under more stringent COVID-19 restrictions from early on Wednesday, health minister Matt Hancock says, adding the rise in cases could overwhelm hospital services.
“Over the last week we’ve seen very sharp, exponential rises in the virus across London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire… We therefore have decided to move greater London, the south and west of Essex… and the south of Hertfordshire… into tier three, which is the very high alert level,” Hancock told parliament on Monday.
“There restrictions will come into force at midnight on Wednesday morning.”
A move to tier three will result in almost 14,000 pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in the capital forced to close or be restricted to takeaway services.