Brazil detects two cases of novel variant coronavirus found in UK

FILE PHOTO: People walk in a popular pre-Christmas street market, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 23, 2020. REUTERS / Pilar Olivares

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A Brazilian lab said on Thursday it had detected two cases of the new variant coronavirus which has spread rapidly in Britain and urged strengthening quarantine measures for travelers from Europe.

The diagnostic medicine company Dasa said in a statement that it had detected the B.1.1.7 strain of SARS-CoV-2 by genetic sequencing carried out in partnership with the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo.

“The sequencing confirmed that the new strain of the virus has arrived in Brazil,” said researcher Ester Sabino from the Institute of Tropical Medicine.

The new variant has quickly become the dominant strain in COVID-19 cases in parts of southern England, and has been linked to increased hospitalization rates. Australia, Italy and the Netherlands say they have detected cases of the new strain.

Scientists say that while it is no more deadly than the original strain, it is significantly more transmissible.

“Given its high transmit power, this result reinforces the importance of quarantine and maintaining isolation for 10 days, especially for those arriving or just arriving from Europe,” Sabino said.

Reporting by Paula Arend Laier; Written by Anthony Boadle; Edited by Peter Graff