Romania Confirms First Case of New UK Virus Strain

Bucharest, Jan 8 (AFP/APP): A 27-year-old woman from southeastern Romania has become the first in the country to be confirmed as infected with the new UK coronavirus strain, hospital officials said Friday.

“Based on the information we gathered so far and on her statements, the woman hadn’t left the country” before contracting the new strain, doctor Catalin Apostolescu from Matei Bals Hospital in Bucharest told AFP.

The patient had been treated at the hospital last week but Apostolescu said she was now self-isolating at home in the city of Giurgiu and was experiencing mild symptoms.

“The patient is in a very good state and under medical supervision,” the health ministry said in a statement.

The B117 coronavirus strain is thought to have first emerged in southeastern England in September, and has since been detected in dozens of countries around the world. Several recent studies — yet to be peer-reviewed — have concluded that B117 is likely to be far more transmissible than other strains. Authorities in Romania have not been able to determine where the patient contracted the new strain.

“Therefore it means that the new virus variant has been in Romania for a while now,” said Apostolescu.

Romania has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with its underfunded and understaffed healthcare system under pressure, especially in hospital intensive care units. The eastern European EU member has reported over 663,000 cases and 16,506 deaths so far. On December 27, Romania kicked off its vaccination campaign with healthcare workers first in line.

More than 92,000 people have been given the first dose of the vaccine so far, in a country of just under 20 million.

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