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New COVID variant detected in Germany

December 24, 2020

A woman who flew from London to Frankfurt this weekend was carrying the new, more infectious coronavirus variant, German officials have said. Meanwhile, Denmark identified 33 people infected with the mutated virus.

Airbus A380 at Frankfurt airport - file photo
The first confirmed patient flew into Germany from LondonImage: Silas Stein/dpa/picture-alliance

German authorities on Thursday confirmed the presence of the  new coronavirus variant  on German soil, adding to fears that the it could start spreading beyond the UK and South Africa.

A woman who flew in from London Heathrow this Sunday tested positive at the Frankfurt airport. Further genetic analysis of the sample at a lab in Berlin identified a case of B.1.1.7, as the variant is known, said authorities in the German state of Baden-Württenberg in a statement.

"It is the first known case in Germany," they said.

The woman, who flew to Germany to visit family, was picked up from the airport by relatives and has isolated at the family's home in Baden-Wuerttemberg since then, the state's health ministry said.

She has since developed mild symptoms. Three individuals who have been in close contact with the woman have also quarantined, the statement added. 

Germany limited air travel from the UK  just hours after the patient's flight. Many other countries worldwide also imposed similar restrictions in a bid to stop the spread.

'Likelihood is high' vaccine will work against new variant

Variant gains foothold in Denmark

The Danish health institute SSI said it has detected 33 cases of the mutated version of the Sars-CoV-2 virus. The infections were found between November 14 and December 14 in the Copenhagen region as well as in North Jutland, Southern Denmark and Zealand.

The institute said the spread reveals that the more infectious variant has gained a foothold in the Nordic country,  albeit a very minor one.

Singapore on Thursday also confirmed its first case of the new version of the coronavirus.

dj/mvb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)