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China confirms first case of UK COVID-19 variant

China has confirmed its first case of a new coronavirus variant that was recently detected in Britain, health officials said.

The new strain, which experts say potentially spreads faster than the original variant, has prompted travel restrictions to the UK by more than 50 countries — including China, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year.

A 23 year old woman from Shanghai has been recorded as the first patient in China with the new variant. She arrived from Britain on December 14, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control said in a research note published Wednesday.

She was hospitalised on arrival as she showed mild symptoms. Health experts conducted a genetic sequencing of her test samples on December 24 due to travel history from the UK and abnormalities in nucleic acid test results.

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The patient was found to have a strain different to those found in Shanghai or Wuhan earlier, and further testing confirmed it was the variant known as B.1.1.7 that has been spreading in the UK since October.
Health authorities have carried out contact -tracing, the CDC statement added.

China suspended direct flights to and from Britain indefinitely on December 24 because of the new strain.

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