At least 33 countries have reported cases of the new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant from the UK

·15 min read
italy coronavirus
Doctors wait for patients to arrive at the Policlinico Tor Vergata hospital where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are being treated in Rome, Italy November 13, 2020. Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters
  • Several countries have imposed travel restrictions on the UK after reports of a new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant circulating the country.

  • At least 33 countries have reported cases of the new variant.

  • One academic estimate said the new variant could be up to 70% more transmissible, though it is too early to say so definitively.

  • UK health authorities said the variant was first detected in September, though they did not publicly identify it until mid-December.

  • Viruses are typically expected to mutate, and variants aren't necessarily more harmful.

  • Scroll down to see which countries have so far reported cases of the new B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Reports of a new and possibly more contagious coronavirus variant have prompted panic in Europe and beyond.  

The new variant of the virus, called B.1.1.7, was first detected in the UK in September but had since spread rapidly. British authorities formally identified the new variant around mid-December.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited one academic - Dr. Erik Volz, a public health lecturer at Imperial College, London - saying the variant could be up to 70% more transmissible. But Volz has himself said that "it's really too early to tell" how transmissible it is, "but from what we see so far, it is growing very quickly."

Viruses are typically expected to mutate, and variants aren't necessarily more harmful. Experts have also said that COVID-19 vaccines should still work against the new variant.

The mutation has triggered some countries to close their borders and tighten travel restrictions even further. 

From Japan to Finland, scroll down to see the rapidly growing list of countries where the new coronavirus strain has been identified.

1. The UK

london coronavirus
A crowded London street seen on October 18, 2020. Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The UK was the first country to report the new variant of the coronavirus back in September. 

Earlier this month, the country's health minister Matt Hancock said the new variant was "getting out of control," prompting the government to put millions of people under stricter lockdown measures and a host of countries to block travel from the UK.

Source: Business Insider

2. The Netherlands

Netherlands coronavirus
Medical personnel wearing full protective suits treat a patient infected with the coronavirus in the ICU at Maastricht UMC+ Hospital in the Netherlands on November 10, 2020. Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

The Netherlands was one of the first European countries after the UK to announce that it found the new virus variant.

On December 22, Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the new variant was found in two cases in the Amsterdam area.

Source: Al Jazeera

3. France

coronavirus france
Medical staff members move a patient at Lille-Lesquin airport in France on November 10, 2020. Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

France detected its first case of a new variant on Christmas Day.

The individual was a French national who returned from London, authorities said.

Source: Al Jazeera

4. Sweden

sweden coronavirus
People stroll at the Drottninggatan shopping street in central Stockholm, Sweden, on November 10, 2020. Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

Swedish authorities detected the new strain after a traveler from the UK fell ill on arrival and tested positive, Sweden's health agency said on December 26.

The infected individual has been kept isolated and no other cases have been reported so far.

Source: The Guardian

5. Spain

palma
The almost-empty beach of Palma, Spain, on December 25, 2020. Clara Margais/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Four cases of the new coronavirus variant were confirmed in Spain, health authorities said on December 26. All involve people who recently arrived from the UK.

"The patients are not seriously ill. We know that this strain is more transmissible, but it does not cause more serious illness," said Madrid's regional government's deputy health chief, Antonio Zapatero, according to The Guardian.

"There is no need for alarm."

Source: The Guardian

6. Switzerland

switzerland
A skier wearing a face mask walks past an après-ski bar in the Alpine resort of Verbier on December 21, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Three people tested positive for the new coronavirus variant in Switzerland, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said on December 26.

Two of the patients lived in the UK but had been visiting the country.

"All close contacts have been identified and quarantined," a FOPH spokeswoman said, according to Swiss Info.

Switzerland is the only European country keeping its ski slopes open to tourism over the Christmas and New Year period.

Source: Swiss Info

7. Denmark

denmark vaccine
Jytte Margrete Frederiksen, 83, is being vaccinated as one of the first Danes in Ishoj, Denmark, on December 27, 2020. Mads Claus Rasmussen/AFP via Getty Images

Nine cases of a new variant were detected in Denmark, the World Health Organization reported Christmas week.

Source: Al Jazeera

8. Germany

germany hospital coronavirus
Nurses have their daily shift handover briefing at the COVID-19 isolation ward of DRK Kliniken Berlin Mitte hospital in Berlin, Germany, on November 11, 2020. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

German health officials said on December 29 that the new coronavirus variant had been in the country since November.

They said the variant was found in an elderly patient with underlying health conditions, who has since died.

The country also recorded a case of the new variant in a woman who flew into Frankfurt from London Heathrow, and who tested positive on December 20.

Source: The Guardian, The Local

9. Italy

italy coronavirus mask flag
A man walks past a billboard raising awareness about the new coronavirus that reads "Altogether, without fear," in Naples, Italy, on March 22, 2020. Carlo Hermann /AFP/Getty

Italian officials said they identified the strain in a couple who flew from the UK to Rome.

Source: Sky News

10. Canada

Coronavirus vaccine canada
A nurse is inoculated with the Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus vaccine in Toronto, Canada, on December 14, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

A couple in Ontario, Canada, tested positive for the new strain of the virus on December 26.

They had no known travel history or high-risk contacts and are now in self-isolation, officials said.

Source: BBC

11. Japan

GettyImages 1293299812
An electric appliance store staff member works at the cash desk on December 27, 2020, in Tokyo, Japan. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Japan reported its first five cases of the virus variant on Christmas Day.

Officials also ordered a travel suspension from December 28, which is expected to run through January and temporarily ban non-resident foreign nationals from entering the country.

Japanese citizens and foreign residents will be allowed to enter but must show proof of a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before departing for Japan, and quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Source: Business Insider

12. Lebanon

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A guard checks a woman's temperature before she enters a building in Beirut, Lebanon, on December 23, 2020. Xinhua/Bilal Jawich via Getty Images

Lebanon's health minister has said that a case of the new variant was detected on a flight arriving from London on December 21.

Hamad Hassan urged all passengers on the flight to take precautionary measures.

Source: Al Jazeera

13. Singapore

singapore coronavirus
A couple with face masks walk through Singapore on March 14, 2020. Ee Ming Toh/AP

Singapore's health ministry confirmed on December 24 that it too had one case of the new coronavirus variant. 

Source: Al Jazeera

14. Australia

australia coronavirus testing
Long lines form outside a COVID-19 test site in Shepparton, Australia, on October 15, 2020. Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Two cases of the new variant were detected in New South Wales, Australia, after a flight arrived from the UK, the state's chief health officer Kerry Chant said.

Source: Sky News

15. United Arab Emirates

coronavirus dubai uae united arab emirates
A woman Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on May 5, 2020. Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

A government official of the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday that a "limited number" of cases of the new UK coronavirus variant had been found. 

The offical said the cases had come from abroad, but did not specify a number or which countries they had come from.

The UAE has reported just over 200,000 cases of the coronavirus in total, and 662 deaths.

Source: The Guardian

16. India

india coronavirus
A woman takes her toddlers for a walk in masks, in New Delhi, India, on August 26, 2020. Manish Swarup/AP

India reported eight cases of the new variant on Tuesday December 29, all of them people returning to the country from the UK. 

They have been put in isolation and their close contacts in quarantine. 

India called a halt on all flights from the UK on December 23 until the end of the year.

Source: The Times of India

17. South Korea

South Korea coronavirus
A student gets body temperature measured when returning for classes in a Seoul school on May 27, 2020. Lee Sang-ho/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency announced on December 28 that South Korea had identified its first three cases of the new variant.

A family arriving from London on December 22 was found to have the variant and are isolating since. 

Since the announcement, the government has signaled its intention to speed up the rollout of a vaccine, originally planned for the first quarter of 2021.

Source: Al Jazeera

 

18. Finland

finland coronavirus
Two health operators carry the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the Helsinki University Hospital in Helsinki, Finland on December 27, 2020. Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP via Getty Images

At least one Finnish citizen who recently returned from the UK tested positive for the new coronavirus strain over the weekend, health officials said Monday, December 28.

According to the BBC, the individual and their family are in isolation.

Source: BBC

19. Pakistan

Health workers collect a specimen at a drive-thru testing and screening facility for the coronavirus, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 6, 2020. Authorities in Pakistan's Sindh province established the first ever drive-thru coronavirus testing facility in Pakistan as part of to control the spread of pandemic coronavirus in the province. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Health workers collect a specimen at a drive-through COVID-19 testing and screening facility in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 6, 2020. Associated Press

Pakistan announced on December 29 that six passengers who had flown from the UK were found with the new variant.

It is not clear when exactly they arrived in Pakistan, but the country had banned all flights from the UK since December 21.

In light of the new cases, Pakistan extended its travel ban from the UK until January 4, 2021.

Source: The Times of India

20. United States

colorado coronavirus testing
Healthcare workers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment check in with people waiting to be tested for COVID-19 on March 12, 2020, in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

A man in Colorado became the first known US case of the newly identified strain of the coronavirus on Tuesday, December 29.

The man, who is in his 20s, had no travel history, state health officials said.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the strain was likely already circulating through the country. 

Source: The Guardian, Business Insider.

21. Turkey

covid vaccine turkey
Dr. Mustafa Gerek participates in a coronavirus vaccine trial at Ankara City Hospital in Ankara, Turkey on October 13, 2020. Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca issued a statement on Friday saying that the country had found 15 people infected with the new strain, and placed them in isolation. All 15 recently traveled to Turkey from the UK. 

Source: The New York Times

22. Belgium

school coronavirus Brussels
Students wearing protective face masks sit in a classroom at a primary school during its reopening in Jumet, Belgium, on May 18, 2020. Yves Herman/REUTERS

The country found at least four cases of the new variant in early December, according to Agence France Presse.

"It's not much, but it is not impossible that there are more," Belgian Health Ministry spokesman Yves Van Laethem told AFP on December 22.

23. Chile

Chile's opposition congresswoman Pamela Jiles celebrates the vote during a congressional session to reject a constitutional reform on pensions proposed by opposition lawmakers, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Valparaiso, Chile July 15, 2020. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Chilean congresswoman Pamela Jiles celebrates a vote during a congressional session in Valparaiso, Chile, July 15, 2020. Reuters

Chile became the first country in South America to report cases of the new coronavirus variant on Tuesday, when Undersecretary of Health Paula Daza reported that a Chilean woman traveling from the UK had tested positive, according to Reuters

Health authorities have since reinstated a mandatory quarantine period for all travelers entering Chile. 

24. Brazil

coronavirus testing brazil
Government health workers visit riverside communities of the municipality of Melgaco to test them for COVID-19 coronavirus infections in the Marajoara region, located in the southwest of the island of Marajo, at the mouth of the Amazon River in the state of Para, Brazil, on May 23, 2020. TARSO SARRAF/AFP via Getty Images

Just two days after Chile's first reported case, a Brazilian lab reported two cases of the novel variant, making Brazil the second South American nation to report cases. 

Dasa, the diagnostic company that detected the novel variant, urged Brazilian authorities to reinstate quarantine requirements for European travelers.

Source: Reuters

25. Malta

FILE PHOTO: A man and a woman wearing protective face masks walk past benches that have been taped off to prevent people from sitting on them, as people take advantage of the good weather to go outdoors in Sliema, despite the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Malta April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
A man and a woman wearing protective face masks walk past benches that have been taped off to prevent people from sitting on them in Malta, April 12, 2020. Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

The Mediterranean island nation reported three cases of the new variant on Wednesday.

Two of the cases have been linked to people who had traveled from the UK, while a third was still being investigated as of Wednesday, according to the Times of Malta

26. Norway

Marines Norway elbow bump
Maj. Alex Puraty, operations officer for Marine Rotational Force-Europe 21.1, greets Maj. Gen. Lars S. Lervik, chief of the Norwegian Army, during Exercise Reindeer II at Setermoen, Norway, November 25, 2020. US Marine Corps/Cpl. Jesse Carter-Powell

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said on Sunday that two cases of the novel variant had been identified in travelers from the UK.

Norway had placed travel restrictions on people from Britain earlier this month over concerns about the strain. 

Source: Reuters

27. Portugal

Priest Nuno Westwood holds a tour for the neighborhoods of Oeiras to bless for Easter Sunday, as Portugal remains on lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Oeiras, Portugal April 12, 2020.  REUTERS/Rafael Marchante?
Priest Nuno Westwood tours neighborhoods during Easter Sunday, as Portugal remains on coronavirus lockdown in Oeiras, Portugal, April 12, 2020. Rafael Marchante/Reuters

As of December 21, at least 18 cases of the novel strain had been detected on the island of Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, according to Macau Business

 

28. China

China coronavirus test
A health worker checks the temperature of residents as they line up to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Qingdao, in China's eastern Shandong province on October 12, 2020. STR/AFP via Getty Images

The country reported its first case of the novel variant on Wednesday in China CDC Weekly, a publication run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The patient, a 23-year-old student returning to China from the UK, was tested on December 14 in Shanghai, Reuters reported

29. Taiwan

taiwan students coronaviruds
Students eat their lunch on desks with plastic partitions as a preventive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 at Dajia Elementary School in Taipei on April 29, 2020. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Wednesday that three passengers traveling from the UK, including a 10-year-old boy, had tested positive for the new strain.

As of Friday, Taiwan has banned most travelers from entering the country.

30. Iceland

Pingvellir, Iceland
Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reported on Tuesday that 11 people traveling into the country had been diagnosed with the new strain before Christmas. Of them, 10 had traveled from the UK, and one from Denmark. 

31. Ireland

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past artwork depicting Tony Holohan Chief Medical Officer for the Irish Department of Health painted on the shuttered windows of a pub following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dublin, Ireland, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
A woman wearing a face mask walks past artwork depicting Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer for the Irish Department of Health, painted on the shuttered windows of a pub in Dublin, Ireland, May 15, 2020. Reuters

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a televised address on Wednesday that the new variant was "spreading at a rate that has surpassed the most pessimistic models available to us."

He added: "While international research for this new variant is ongoing, it is already very clear that we are dealing with a strain of the disease that spreads much, much more quickly."

32. Israel

israel coronavirus
A man wears a face mask as he walks along a main street in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 15, 2020. AP Photo/Oded Balilty

The country had confirmed at least six cases of the new strain by Christmas, according to The Times of Israel.

Medical researchers have detected dozens more suspected cases in labs, suggesting the variant may be spreading quickly within the country.

33. Jordan

A man wears a protective face mask as he walks along the main market in downtown after the government eased the restrictions on movement aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Amman, Jordan April 29, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
A man wears a protective face mask as he walks along the main market in downtown in Amman, Jordan, April 29, 2020. Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Jordan announced its first two cases of the mutated strain on Sunday. Health Minister Nazir Obeidat said the two infected people had recently traveled from the UK, and said both were in "excellent health," according to Arab News.

Nigeria and South Africa have also found separate, new coronavirus variants in recent days.

FILE PHOTO: A medical health worker helps his colleague to wear his PPE during a community testing, as authorities race to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Abuja, Nigeria April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
A medical health worker helps his colleague wear his PPE in Abuja, Nigeria, on April 15, 2020. Reuters

The UK announced on December 23 that it had found a different, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant originating from South Africa.

And on December 24, Nigeria reported another variant of the virus, separate from the ones found in the UK and South Africa.

John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that health officials were analyzing more samples and that little is known so far about that variant.

"Give us some time ... it's still very early," Nkengasong said.

Source: Business Insider, Al Jazeera

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