Singapore discovers first case of new COVID variant found in UK

Singapore discovers first case of new COVID variant found in UK

Singapore has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus variant found in the United Kingdom.

Singapore’s health ministry said it has been conducting viral genomic sequencing for travellers with confirmed COVID-19 cases who arrived from Europe recently.

Among the 31 COVID-19 patients who arrived between November 17 and December 17, one was confirmed as carrying the British B117 strain, while 11 others were found infected preliminarily, and their confirmatory results are pending, it said late on Wednesday.

All the cases had been placed on 14-day quarantine or isolated upon arrival, and their close contacts quarantined.

The patient with the new variant is a 17-year-old female who had been studying in the UK since August 2020.

She returned to Singapore on December 6, was quarantined upon arrival and confirmed to have the novel disease on December 8.

The health ministry said since she had been isolated upon arrival, “we were able to ringfence this case so that there was no further transmission”.

“There is currently no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community,” the ministry added.

Singapore, which so far reported 58,482 cases and 29 related deaths, has blocked visitors with histories of recent travel to the UK to prevent the new strain from spreading in the city-state that has reported almost zero new local infections daily.