China reports first case of new COVID-19 variant

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China reports first case of new COVID-19 variant

China has detected its first imported case of new COVID-19 variant that is spreading rapidly around England, according to a publication run by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Countries all over the world have cut off travel links to stop the spread of the new variant of the COVID-19, which scientists have said is 40 to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus.

The new variant was detected in a 23-year-old female student returning to China from England, who was tested in Shanghai on December 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.

The patient was hospitalised on arrival as she showed mild symptoms. Chinese Health experts conducted a genetic sequencing of her test samples on December 24 "due to travel history from the Britain and abnormalities  in nucleic acid results," the China CDC said.

The patient was found to have a different strain to those found in Wuhan or Shanghai earlier, and further testing confirmed it was the new variant known as B.1.1.7 that has been spreading in Britain since October.

The new COVID-19 variant contains a genetic mutation that could result in COVID-19 spreading more easily between people.

China will suspend direct flights to and from England indefinitely, a foreign ministry spokesman said last week.

But there is no evidence so far to advocate that infection caused by the new variant is more likely to lead to a severe case of COVID-19 or increase the risk of death.