China has confirmed its first case of the mutant strain of coronavirus originally detected in Britain.
A 23-year-old woman who flew to Shanghai from the UK on December 14 is the patient in question, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control said.
The variant is said to be significantly more infectious than previous versions of Covid-19, with authorities calling the case ‘a great potential threat’ to its fight against the virus.
More than 50 countries have enforced travel restrictions against people coming from the UK, including China, where coronavirus first emerged late last year.
But the new strain has already been detected in 10 countries, while a fast-spreading South African strain has also been reported in some places.
Chinese authorities say the patient was hospitalised on arrival after showing mild symptoms.
A report on research publication website Chinese CDC Weekly said the woman tested negative two days before her flight.
The patient said she had ran in the park without a mask and took her face covering off to eat and drink at the airport, which officials say could have exposed her to the virus.
She was found to have a different strain to the one found among patients in Shanghai or Wuhan, and further testing revealed it to be the variant known as B.1.1.7, which is thought to have been spreading in Britain since October.
China suspended direct flights to and from the UK on Christmas Eve after the new variant was discovered.
On Tuesday, Colorado became the first US state to report a case of the mutant strain, followed by a second in California.
After largely containing its outbreak, infections have been on the rise in Beijing and northern China in recent days.
However coronavirus expert, Dr Zhang Wenhong, said it is ‘nearly impossible’ for the People’s Republic to have another mass outbreak due to its strong testing abilities, MailOnline reports.
Today, China approved its first Covid-19 vaccine for the general public, developed by state-backed pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
Data is yet to be released by the developer, but yesterday the Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group, said the jab was 79.34% effective.
It is not thought that the new strain of coronavirus is more deadly or that it affects the ability of vaccines.
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