Variant from India being probed: U.K.

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - British health officials areinvestigating a COVID-19 variant originating in India but as yetthey do not have enough evidence to classify it is as a variantof concern, Susan Hopkins of Public Health England (PHE) said onSunday.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC television, Hopkinssaid: "We have not got enough data about this variant yet to beable to clarify whether it's a variant of concern. We have putit as a variant under investigation."

"To escalate it up the ranking we need to know that it'sincreased transmissibility, increased severity, orvaccine-evading, and we just don't have that yet, but we'relooking at the data on a daily basis."

PHE has said it has identified 77 cases of the variant inBritain.

Earlier, environment minister George Eustice said PrimeMinister Boris Johnson's trip to India later this month shouldgo ahead despite rising cases in the country.

"It is important that business and the business of politicsif you like does continue," he said, adding that an expertcommittee periodically reviews decisions about whether to permittravel to certain countries.(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by EmeliaSithole-Matarise)

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