UK COVID-19 strain spreads across Europe, Japan, possibly South Africa

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The new coronavirus strain blamed for the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the UK has escaped to the rest of the world.

Cases of the more-contagious mutation of the virus that sent much of the UK into a near lockdown before Christmas have been confirmed not only in multiple European countries, but also in Japan and Australia.

Japan identified five cases with the UK strain, all in people who recently arrived from the UK, The Guardian reported. The five people have been quarantined, but the strain’s presence is concerning in a country that was successful quelling COVID in the early days of the pandemic and is seeing a rapid increase in cases now.

One case of the UK variant was found in France so far, also in someone who had traveled to the UK and arrived in Tours from London last weekend. French health officials say several other suspected cases are being tested.

The variant has also been found in Denmark, Italy, Gibraltar, the Netherlands and Australia, according to Sky News. Most of the cases involve people who traveled from the UK.

Russia was the latest nation to require travelers from the UK to quarantine, easing restrictions after earlier joining in banning travel from the nation.

A strain that appears very similar to the UK strain was found in South African, but experts are not sure yet if it is the same, or yet another variant. Another variant is circulating in Nigeria.

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