(Reuters) – China has detected its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly around Britain, according to a publication run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Countries around the world have cut off travel links to Britain to stop the spread of the new variant, which scientists have said is 40-70% more transmissible than the original virus.
The variant was detected in a 23-year-old female student returning to China from Britain, who was tested in Shanghai on Dec. 14, according to the latest edition of China CDC Weekly published on Wednesday.
The case “poses a great potential threat to the prevention and control of COVID-19 in China”, the publication said.
Researchers ran gene-sequencing on the patient’s sample on Dec. 24 and found the strain is a variant known as “VUI202012/01”, the publication said.
The variant includes a genetic mutation that, in theory, could result in COVID-19 spreading more easily between people.
China will suspend direct flights to and from Britain indefinitely, a foreign ministry spokesman said last week.
The patient in Shanghai has been transferred to a designated medical institution for quarantine, and investigation into her close contacts has started, according to the publication.
(Reporting by Tom Daly and Hong Kong Newsroom; Editing by Hugh Lawson)