A council has responded to news of a new highly mutated variant of the coronavirus after the first case was confirmed in the UK. 

Buckinghamshire Council has issued a message to residents after a case of the new BA.2.86 coronavirus variant was recorded in the UK.

It comes after the number of patients being treated by the Buckinghamshire NHS Healthcare Trust with coronavirus was up three last week, with 17 patients in hospital as of Sunday, August 20.

The World Health Organisation has announced it is tracking a highly mutated variant of the coronavirus, BA.2.86, of which six cases have been reported globally.

It was first detected in Denmark on July 24, before five more cases were recorded in the US, the UK and Israel. 

The UK Health Security Agency said the UK case was detected on Friday, August 18 in someone with "no recent travel history", meaning the risk of "significant community transmission" could already be high.

However, Angela Macpherson, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Buckinghamshire Council said she didn't believe there was a need for concern. 

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She said: “As expected, the coronavirus continues to mutate, and worldwide surveillance continues to identify new variants.

“Over the year levels of Covid in the community and therefore hospital admissions will fluctuate from time to time. The World Health Organisation says there are currently no circulating variants of concern and there is no evidence that the new variants cause more severe disease.

“Covid can cause more severe disease in older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions so we would urge people who are eligible for a vaccine this autumn to go for their Covid jab as well as their flu jab.”

The new variant is not thought to be more dominant than the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant but is being kept under close surveillance by scientists due to its 36 mutations.

The Health Security Agency said there is currently “insufficient data” to assess the new strain’s severity or how likely it is to evade vaccinations compared to other circulating variants.

Dr Meera Chand, deputy director of the Health Security Agency said: “V-23AUG-01 was designated as a variant on August 18, 2023, on the basis of international transmission and significant mutation of the viral genome.

“This designation allows us to monitor it through our routine surveillance processes.

“We are aware of one confirmed case in the UK. UKHSA is currently undertaking detailed assessment and will provide further information in due course.”