More cases of new coronavirus variant found in Europe

More cases of new coronavirus variant found in Europe

A new variant of the coronavirus, which appears to be more transmissible, has been discovered in South Africa and is credited with a further rise in Covid-19 cases in the UK.

Spain has confirmed four cases of the most contagious variant of coronavirus recently identified in the United Kingdom, the last European country to do so.

The infections, all in Madrid, were linked to recent trips to the UK, the regional deputy chief for health said.

France, Denmark and the Netherlands have also reported cases in recent days.

The details given a week ago of the new variant in England caused travel restrictions in dozens of countries.

Scientists say the new variant is considerably more transmissible than previous strains, but not necessarily more dangerous for those infected.

Madrid’s deputy health chief Antonio Zapatero said the confirmed cases involved three relatives of a man who flew in from the UK on Thursday.

The fourth case concerned another man, who had also traveled from the UK.

Zapatero said that none of the patients were seriously ill and that “there was no need for alarm.”

He said there were three other suspected cases of the new variant, although the test results will not be ready before Tuesday or Wednesday.

News of the cases in Spain came just hours after France confirmed its first known patient to have the new variant.

The French Health Ministry said the person was a French citizen in the central city of Tours who had arrived from London on December 19.

The ministry said the man, who had been living in the UK, was asymptomatic and was currently isolating himself at home.

France closed its border with the UK after the new variant was confirmed in the UK, but ended its ban for EU citizens on Wednesday, provided people tested negative before traveling.

Thousands of truck drivers spent Christmas Day in their taxis in Kent waiting to cross the English Channel.

Other countries have also reported cases of the new variant: On Friday, Japan confirmed five infections in passengers who had all arrived from the UK, while cases in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia were reported earlier.

Last week, France lifted its national blockade, but the government said the infection rate had not dropped enough for further relaxation.

France has reported more than 2.5 million confirmed Covid infections since the start of the outbreak, with more than 62,000 deaths, the seventh highest total deaths in the world.

Meanwhile, the country’s first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines was delivered from Belgium to the health system’s central pharmacy on the outskirts of Paris on Saturday, the AFP news agency reports.

The first injections will be given to patients at two senior facilities, in Sevran and Dijon, on Sunday.

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