Boris Johnson to hold TV press conference from Downing Street at 5pm today

Boris Johnson will be hosting another coronavirus press conference on Wednesday at 5pm, as fears rise of a spike in cases of the South African strain of Covid-19 in the UK.

The Government is currently cracking down on coronavirus variants in a bid to prevent future outbreaks.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier warned that anyone breaching border measures could be handed a 10-year prison sentence.

There will be a new £1,000 fine issued to anyone found failing to take the mandatory test and a £2,000 penalty for failing to take a second mandatory test – also automatically extending quarantine to 14 days.

There will then be a £5,000 fine, rising to £10,000, for failing to quarantine in a designated hotel.

Hancock added that anyone who lies on the "passenger locator form" and tries to conceal they have been in one of 33 "red list" countries in the last 10 days could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Surge testing is being carried out at a range of areas in the UK, as officials try to trace the South African variant,

However, England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam does not believe the variant will become dominant in the UK.

He told the BBC the mutation first identified in Kent accounts for more than 90% of cases and there had been fewer than 200 cases of the South African strain.

"If you are running a bath and you have got the hot water tap on and you add in a very small amount of cold water, so the cold tap is running as well but at really a very low volume, your bath water is basically going to remain hot," he said.

"It's only if that cold tap was gushing much more than the hot tap, the cold water would take over.

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"That's probably the best analogy I can give you at the moment. There are no signs that South African variant is running at that speed at the moment and therefore I don't frame it as something that is going to be a dominant issue in the next few months."

More than 12 million people have already received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, it was announced on Tuesday, February 9.

Scientists and experts alike have urged the public not to become lenient with safety measures such as social distancing.

Prof Whitty confirmed that vaccines “probably reduce the risk of transmission" but revealed scientists are “not absolutely confident about by how much”.

However, a study released earlier this month warned the Oxford vaccine may not offer protection against mild and moderate disease caused by the South Africa variant.

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It examined 2,000 patients, mainly healthy and young.

The research, carried out by scientists at the University of Texas found “a two-dose regimen of [the vaccine] did not show protection against mild-moderate Covid-19 due to [the South African variant]”.

South Africa initially announced a pause in its rollout of a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But it said on Monday, February 8, it could still roll it out in a "stepped manner", giving out 100,000 doses and monitoring it to see if it prevents hospitalisations and deaths.

UK health minister Edward Argar told Sky News: “There is no evidence that this vaccine is not effective in preventing hospitalisation, severe illness and death, which is ultimately what we’re seeking with these vaccines.”

The study has not yet been peer-reviewed nor published.

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