The UK is ‘monitoring’ a new Covid variant with ’46 mutations’ first detected in France.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said it is aware of the new mutation dubbed the IHU variant but confirmed it is not yet a variant of concern.

The Express reports at least two cases of the new variant, officially named B.1.640.2., have been recorded in the UK.

Omicron Covid cases UK

What has been said about the new Covid variant?

The government agency told the newspaper: "We are aware of a small number of cases of B.1.640 in the UK and have been monitoring this particular variant specifically since late October.

"As it is in the nature of viruses to mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations.

"At the present time, it has not been designated a Variant Under Investigation or a Variant of Concern.”

The agency added: "UKHSA is monitoring the domestic and international situation closely through our world-leading genomic surveillance."

Boris Johnson update today

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm.

The Prime Minister will be joined by England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The press conference will be broadcast on BBC, ITV, Sky News and other major news channels. It will also be available to stream on social media.