Panama, Portugal detect first cases of South Africa COVID-19 variant


Panama, Portugal detect first cases of South Africa COVID-19 variant
FILE PHOTO: A woman gets tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

Panama has registered its first case of a COVID-19 variant matching a strain of the virus detected in South Africa, the Central American country’s health ministry said on Friday.

The variant was detected in a 40-year-old native of Zimbabwe who entered Panama on Jan. 5 from South Africa. The person did not show symptoms and has been isolated, the ministry said in a statement.

Elsewhere, the first case of the South African coronavirus variant was identified in Portugal on Friday, health institute Ricardo Jorge told Lusa news agency, as the country struggles to contain a crippling surge in cases partially blamed on the rapid spread of the British variant.

“We are undergoing due process to rapidly test and interrupt this potential chain of transmission,” the Ricardo Jorge Institute told Lusa. It did not say where in Portugal the strain was detected.

The country of 10 million people registered a record 234 coronavirus deaths and 13,987 cases on Friday, and is currently reporting the highest seven-day rolling average of new cases and deaths per million worldwide according to ourworldindata.org.

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