Spain detects its first case of South African Covid-19 variant

Health officials confirmed that what is thought to be the first case of the South African variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Spain.

Spain detects its first case of South African Covid-19 variant
Scientist examines Covid-19 sample under a microscope. Photo: AFP

The case was confirmed by Galician health authorities in a man who had recently returned to Spain from a work trip to South Africa.

The Covid-19 mutation is actually identified as 501.V2 but it is known more commonly as the South Africa variant because it was first detected in Mandela Bay.

There is no evidence to suggest that new variants causes much more serious illness for the vast majority of people who become infected but there are concerns that, like the British variant, it can spread more rapidly.

The South Africa variant has been found in at least 30 other countries including 16 across Europe while the British strain has been detected in 70 countries worldwide.

Spanish health authorities have already detected 300 confirmed cases of the British variant and suggested that it could become the dominant strain across Spain by March.


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New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home.