Singapore has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus variant found in the UK, its health ministry says, while 11 other people already in quarantine have returned preliminarily positive results for the new strain, Reuters reports.
Confirmatory results are pending for the 11 cases.
All the cases were imported from Europe and placed in 14-day quarantine at dedicated facilities or isolated upon arrival, and their close contacts also quarantined.
“There is currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community,” the health ministry said late on Wednesday, referring to the new, potentially more infectious UK strain.
Singapore has been conducting viral genomic sequencing for confirmed Covid-19 cases who arrived from Europe recently.
The strain was found among 31 cases from Europe, who arrived in Singapore between Nov 17 and Dec 17 and were confirmed to have Covid-19 this month.
The patient with the new variant came to Singapore from the UK on Dec 6, had been quarantined on arrival and tested positive on Dec 8. All her close contacts had been placed in quarantine and had tested negative at the end of their quarantine period.
The health ministry said it had been able to ring-fence the case so that there was no further transmission.
Singapore is blocking visitors with recent travel history to the UK.
Meanwhile, Business Insider is reporting a second, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant originating from South Africa has now been found in the UK, British health secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Hancock said that scientists had identified two cases of a new variant which, he said, is even more transmissible than the one currently spreading rapidly through England.
Both cases of the second variant were close contacts of people who had recently returned from South Africa, he said.
“This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK,” Hancock added.
It is typical for viruses to mutate, and variants are not necessarily more harmful or deadly. Experts previously told Business Insider that it’s unlikely that the mutations in the first variant will stop vaccines from working.