The more potent ‘UK variant’ of coronavirus has taken hold in Cyprus, causing nearly 40% of cases as another 45 positive samples sent to the EU were found infected with it, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
Out of the 45 samples detected to have the UK variant, 44 were from Limassol (73 samples) and one from Paphos (5 samples).
So far, the sequencing has been successful in 461 samples, with the UK variant detected in 177 of them, or 38.39%.
According to scientists, the variant is more aggressive, 60% more transmissible and blamed for a spike in COVID-19 cases, especially in Limassol.
The EU medicines agency has informed the ministry that sequencing on samples sent from Cyprus was successful in 78 samples from January until March 6.
In December, from 18 samples tested, there was no UK variant detected.
Between February 1-15, from 16 samples, there was a 31.25% detection rate; that is, five samples out of 16 had it.
From February 15 to March 6, out of 44 samples, the British variant was detected in 91%, 40 out of 44.
COVID-19 variants are a cause of deep concern in Europe, with recommendations focused on intensifying testing and strictly monitoring entrance points to countries and contact tracing, aiming to detect variants in a timely fashion.
“Cyprus has invested from the beginning of the pandemic in a continuous monitoring of the epidemiological picture of the country through mass testing and increased checks at the Republic’s entrance points.”