New coronavirus variant: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps concerned the new variant could "defeat the vaccine".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said there are concerns the new coronavirus variant could "defeat the vaccine".

Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast that ministers acted "extremely fast" to ensure a "safety-first approach" to travel changes following an emergency meeting with chief medical officers.

He added: "This is agreed across all of the United Kingdom and we have acted fast, it's rather like the mink variant from Denmark last year, where we acted very quickly, within hours and we're then able, once we've checked it out, to release things somewhat.

"I hope that's what this is, a pause rather than going backwards, but we can't take risks when we see a variant which could well defeat the vaccine, or at least that's the concern and we need just a bit of time to check that out."

New coronavirus variant: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps concerned the new variant could "defeat the vaccine".

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Mr Schapps went on to say that the Government is taking a "safety-first approach" to the new Covid-19 variant which has emerged in southern Africa.

Ministers are to impose a travel ban on six nations in the region due to rising concerns over the new strain of the virus.

He was also on Sky News, where he said: "It is important to make sure that you do act immediately and in doing so you get to slow things down in terms of potential entry into the country.

"That gives us a bit of time for the scientists to work on sequencing the genome, which involves growing cultures - it takes several weeks to do - so we can find out how significant a concern this particular variant is.”

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