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First case of British coronavirus strain confirmed in Russia

Now the patient is no longer contagious, Anna Popova, chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog, said

MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. The first case of the British coronavirus strain was confirmed in Russia at the end of 2020 and now the patient is no longer contagious, Anna Popova, chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog, said on Sunday.

"By the end of the last year, we saw that we had a variant of the British strain that is provoking serious fears now. It was found in only one person who felt and is now feeling well. He had no symptoms. Now, he is not contagious," she said in an interview with the Vesti news roundup on the Rossiya-1 television channel.

Thirty-two out of more than 7,000 people who arrived from the United Kingdom in a period from late November to the day when air service between the two countries was suspended tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection, Popova, said.

"More than 7,000 people had arrived in Russia from the United Kingdom from late November to December 22 when air service [with the United Kingdom] was suspended. Thirty-two of them were found to have the virus upon the arrival," she said.

According to Popova, twenty-eight of these thirty-two people had no symptoms. "Two of the remaining four people had mild forms [of the disease], and two needed hospitalization. But we have spotted all of them and took samples from them," she said.

The British strain of the novel coronavirus can be identified by PCR test used in Russia and the anti-coronavirus vaccines registered in Russia can ensure protection against it, Popova said.

"According to our data, testing systems used in Russia for PCR diagnosis detect this virus. And the vaccines that have been registered in Russia 100-percent ensure protection against it," she said.

She noted that the virus has not become more dangerous and doesn’t cause more serious forms of the disease but it has become more infectious. "It means that one person can infect more people," she said.

The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said on December 14, 2020 that British scientists had identified a new coronavirus strain that might be to blame for high infection rates in southeastern England. Hancock said preliminary analysis indicated that the newly-discovered virus strain was spreading faster than any of those exposed previously. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told an urgent news conference on December 19 that according to the current findings the new strain might be 70% more contagious. He added that British experts had not yet found any proof that the virus mutation was fraught with a greater risk of lethal outcome.

Following this news, Russia suspended air service with the United Kingdom from December 22.