New COVID-19 variant: Sweden confirms first case in visitor from UK

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A woman wearing a face mask is seen in a bus stop next to an information sign asking people to keep social distance due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Stockholm, Sweden June 26, 2020. — Reuters/File

The new variant of the coronavirus circulating in Britain has been detected in Sweden after a traveller from the United Kingdom fell ill on arrival and tested positive for it, the Swedish Health Agency said Saturday.

Health Agency official Sara Byfors told a news conference the traveller, who was not identified, had kept isolated after arrival to Sweden and that no further positive cases had so far been detected.

The new variant is thought to be more transmissible than others currently circulating.

Sweden imposed travel restrictions earlier this month on passengers from Britain amid concerns over the variant. Similar measures have been taken by several other countries in the EU and across the world.

France reports first case

Sweden reported the case hours after France reported its first infection  of the new variant of coronavirus.

It has increased concerns of a new wave of the virus hitting the euro zone’s second-biggest economy.

A Frenchman who recently arrived back in France from London on December 19 had tested positive for the new variant of the coronavirus, the country’s health ministry confirmed.

He is self-isolating and feeling fine, the ministry said.

Several 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 Singapore, Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands have been reported too.

Has the new coronavirus strain reached Pakistan?

No evidence exists to back reports that the new strain of coronavirus in UK has allegedly found its way to Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan said Thursday.

The premier’s aide was responding to a question during a webinar organised by the Pakistan Society for Awareness and Community Empowerment (PACE).

Addressing the webinar further, Dr Sultan said that investigations and research to detect the new strain, dubbed as B117, was underway in a “relevant population where it could possibly be present” in Pakistan.

Dr Faisal Sultan maintained that instead of calling it a new strain that emerged in the UK, it should be considered as a variant of the coronavirus as very minor mutations had been observed in the virus.

“Even British authorities don’t have any strong evidence if the virus has become more infectious”, he said.

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