Madrid Desk, Dec 21 (efe-epa).- A new infectious strain of coronavirus that was detected in the United Kingdom last week and which has led to increased restrictions on large parts of England ahead of the Christmas holidays has been circulating in Belgium and the Netherlands for at least a month, authorities in Brussels said.
Officials in France said that the new variant had not yet been detected on French territory, but the president has nevertheless called for his compatriots to be increasingly vigilant faced with the new mutation.
Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, a separate mutation of the virus that does not appear to be connected to the new outbreak in the UK that was detected in September was likely behind the surge of cases in the country that meant it was the worst affected in the European Union for several weeks.
Belgian authorities announced on Monday that the new variant of coronavirus recently detected in the United Kingdom has been circulating for at least a month in Belgium.
Belgium joins the Netherlands and Italy to have also announced that they have detected this new, more infectious strain.
“This variant is not limited to the United Kingdom, but has been detected in other places around the world, including the Netherlands and Belgium,” said Yves Van Laethem, spokesperson for the Belgian coronavirus task force, told a press conference.
The virologist added that “there are currently 4 known cases in Belgium and that detection was made a month ago.”
“It is possible that there are more cases circulating in our country and in other countries of continental Europe,” added Van Laethem.
He said the mutation has been known “since September” and that it currently represents “60 percent of new infections in the United Kingdom.”