A new variant of coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout the UK.
In response, the government has placed England in lockdown, following tougher restrictions already imposed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Here, we’ll explain what we know about the new variant, and how you can help stay protected.
Is the new variant more deadly?
There currently isn’t any evidence that this variant is more deadly, though scientists will be keeping a close watch.
However, an increasing transmission rate is enough to cause concern to hospitals and care homes.
If more people are being infected more quickly, this will lead to more people needing treatment. There’s also the possibility of higher infection transfer if an outbreak happens in a care home.
What is different about the new variant?
There have been changes to the virus’s ‘spike’ protein in the variant - which is the key it uses to unlock the doorway to our body's cells.
A change that makes it easier for the virus to get inside our cells will help it spread faster.
Will the vaccines work against the new variant?
It’s very likely the answer is yes.
All three leading vaccines help the body develop an immune response against the existing spike.
Even though part of the spike has mutated, the vaccines should still work as they attack several different parts of the virus.
How can I protect against the new variant?
Continue to follow the existing guidelines while working in care homes, as well as in your daily life, to help protect against transmission and infection.
1. Get the vaccine as soon as you are able - guidelines for how to receive the vaccine are here
2. Get regularly tested - follow the guidelines for accessing testing here
3. Always wear a face mask in care homes - more advice around this here
4. Wear the correct PPE in care homes - guidance found here
5. Follow infection control guidelines in care homes - our full advice is here
Here to help
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