UK need to come down hard on South African COVID variant - health minister

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs to contain the spread of the South African variant of the coronavirus by identifying new cases through mass testing in areas where cases unconnected with travel have emerged, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday.

"There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant is any more severe," he said. "But we need to come down hard on it and we will."

Public Health England managing director Susan Hopkins said the organisation expected all vaccines would be effective against the variant, especially in reducing hospitalisation.

(Reporting by David Milliken, writing by Paul Sandle, editing by William James)