Finland has become the latest European country to report the presence of two new coronavirus variants – one stemming from the UK and the other from South Africa.
Health officials said Monday that a Finnish citizen who had recently arrived from Britain for a Christmas holiday was diagnosed with the UK COVID-19 variant in the southeast Kymenlaakso region over the weekend.
The person’s recent connections were traced and his family members have been isolated. Finnish health officials said they believed the variant hasn’t spread further.
Two people have also tested positive for the second variant which spread in South Africa.
Authorities have urged all those who arrived from Britain since Dec. 7 to get a coronavirus test. Last week, Finland halted all scheduled flights with Britain until early January.
Nordic neighbors Sweden and Norway reported their first cases of the new COVID-19 variant on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Denmark reported its first such case earlier in December.
Finland’s double-blow follows reports South Korea had also confirmed the presence of the variant first reported in the UK.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it had been seen in three people who arrived in South Korea from London on 22 December.
Dozens of countries around the world have placed restrictions on travellers from the UK since the variant was identified in southeast England.
While it is believed to spread faster, there is no evidence so far that the new variant causes more serious illness or is able to evade any of the vaccines that have been approved for use in recent weeks.