FACTBOX-First found in UK and South Africa, COVID variants cross the world

TWO variants of the coronavirus, first found in Britain and South Africa and more transmissible than the original, are spreading across the world.

The World Health Organization says there is not enough information to determine whether the variants could undermine vaccines being rolled out across the globe.

The following countries are among those that have reported variants of the novel coronavirus, first identified in China a year ago, among their populations.

* The UNITED STATES reported its first known case of the variant B.1.1.7, originally documented in Britain, in Colorado – a man in his 20s with no recent travel history who was currently in isolation.

* SWITZERLAND has documented five cases of the variant from Britain and two cases of the South African mutation, a health ministry official said on Tuesday, adding he anticipates more cases will emerge.

* DENMARK has identified 33 infections with the variant spreading in Britain, authorities said on December 24.

* FRANCE, with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the European Union, recorded its first case of a variant in a Frenchman arriving back from London.

* INDIA has found six cases of a variant of the coronavirus on a flight from Britain and will likely extend a flight ban to guard against it, officials said on Tuesday.

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* JAPAN on Monday detected the variant found in South Africa, the government said, the first such discovery in a nation that has already identified more than a dozen cases of the variant spreading in Britain.

* SOUTH KOREA said the variant found in Britain was found in three people who had entered South Korea from London on December 22. Officials vowed to speed up vaccinations.

* Self-ruled TAIWAN, claimed by neighbouring China, confirmed its first case of the variant discovered in Britain. The victim was in hospital in stable condition after having arrived back on Sunday from the UK.

* NORWAY said the variant circulating in Britain had been detected in two people who arrived from the United Kingdom earlier in December.

* AUSTRALIA said two travellers from the United Kingdom were carrying the variant found in Britain.

* JORDAN has detected its first two cases of the variant spreading in Britain. The kingdom last week banned flights to and from Britain until January 3.

* GERMANY said the variant from Britain had been found in a passenger flying to Frankfurt from London on December 20. It seems to have been present in Germany since November, the Die Welt daily reported on Monday.

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* ITALY detected a patient infected with the variant found in Britain, the health ministry said on December 20.

* The variant linked to Britain has been detected on the island of Madeira in PORTUGAL, the regional civil protection authority said.

* Health officials in FINLAND said the variant circulating in Britain has been detected in two people, while the variant spreading in South Africa has been detected in one other person.

* SWEDEN said the variant circulating in Britain had been detected after a traveller from Britain fell ill on arrival and tested positive.

* Officials in CANADA said that two confirmed cases of the variant detected in the United Kingdom had appeared in the Canadian province of Ontario.

* Chile said on Tuesday it had recorded its first case of the British variant, prompting health authorities to reinstate a mandatory quarantine period for all visitors entering the South American nation from abroad.

* IRELAND on Christmas Day confirmed the presence of the British variant and said further testing would establish how far it has spread.

* LEBANON detected its first case of a variant of the coronavirus on a flight arriving from London.

* UNITED ARAB EMIRATES discovered a “limited number” of cases of people infected with a new variant, a government official said on Tuesday. He said those affected had travelled from abroad, without specifying from where or the number of cases.

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* SINGAPORE confirmed its first case of the variant found in Britain, the patient arriving from Britain on December 6, while 11 others who were already in quarantine had returned preliminarily positive results for the new strain.

* ISRAEL detected four cases of the coronavirus emerging in Britain. Three of the cases were returnees from England.

* The variant spreading in Britain appears to have infected two students who returned to HONG KONG from the UK, the Department of Health said last week.

* PAKISTAN health officials said on Tuesday the variant found in Britain had been detected in the southern province of Sindh.

* And yet another variant of the coronavirus may have emerged in NIGERIA, the head of Africa’s disease control body said, cautioning that more investigation was needed.

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