China confirms first case of new COVID-19 variant

 By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

People wearing face masks (PHOTO: Daily Sun)

SHANGHAI – The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Wednesday the first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that originally began circulating in the United Kingdom

Researchers at the CDC said in a weekly report that the new variant of the coronavirus was detected in a 23-year-old woman from Shanghai who arrived from Britain on December 14.

The patient was taken to a quarantine facility immediately after she stepped off the plane, a measure China has imposed on all inbound international passengers regardless of their COVID-19 status during the pandemic.

The woman, diagnosed as a mild case as of Wednesday, has not been out and about in the city, according to the report.

On Dec. 24, laboratory work confirmed that the coronavirus strain contracted by the student was the new variant, known as B.1.1.7.

The patient in China tested negative for the virus two days before her departure from the U.K, the report said. She told health officials she was unsure how she had been infected, but noted that she had recently gone running without wearing a mask and had also removed her mask to eat and drink while waiting to board her flight from the U.K.

According to the report, Shanghai authorities have undertaken several control measures, including contact tracing and disinfection. So far, authorities have not reported other connected cases.

The outbreak of the new coronavirus variant forced the U.K. government to impose stricter lockdown measures on London and other cities in southeastern England before Christmas Day, with several countries responding by banning travel from the U.K. Despite these measures, more than a dozen countries have since reported patients being infected by the new variant.

Countries around the world, including Philippines, have cut off travel links to Britain to stop the spread of the new variant, which scientists have said is 40-70 percent more transmissible than the original virus.


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