The speed with which the first Covid variant to have been identified in the UK has spread across the country can be observed in a new interactive map.

Just before Christmas, the Government announced that a new strain of Covid-19, which was spreading rapidly in the South East, had been identified by scientists.

Since then, other mutations have been detected, prompting a third national lockdown and the introduction of stricter quarantine rules from at risk countries.

The South East variant, which is more infectious, alongside other variants, has been responsible for the soaring number of Covid cases, hospital admissions, and deaths.

Now, scientists at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab in Cheshire have revealed the speed and scale at which the new variant spread across the country in December.

Lighthouse Lab scientists identified the new variant in the lab’s PCR test and have been able to use this new science to track the spread of the new strain across England and Wales.

Its interactive map shows how quickly the variant spread across London, East and the South East, parts of the North West, the South West and West Midlands between December 1 and December 21 2020.

Areas with the highest incidence in the study correlate with areas reporting high NHS load and hospitalisation, Lighthouse Lab said. 

“Although the speed of the spread is shocking, we’re working really closely with the government to share our scientific discoveries and advancements, which in-turn informs decision making across the devolved nations, so that we can be in the best position to beat the virus,” Dr Mark Wigglesworth, Site Director at the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab, said.

“While a new national lockdown is not what anyone would have wanted, our scientists’ work in discovering the spread of the new variant will be pivotal in informing government policy, protecting the NHS and saving lives.”