Cases of new COVID-19 variant detected in LatAm
Published: Jan 05, 2021 01:30 PM

Zulema Riquelme, a 46-year-old nursing technician, receives a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Metropolitan Hospital in Santiago, Chile, Dec. 24, 2020. (Chilean Presidential Palace/Handout via Xinhua)

Cases of a new and more infectious coronavirus variant that was first identified in Britain have been detected in Latin America.

South American countries including Brazil and Chile have both reported two cases of the COVID-19 variant.

Brazil's southeast Sao Paulo state on Monday confirmed two cases were detected in the state capital, also known as Sao Paulo, involving a 25-year-old and a 34-year-old who were in contact with people who traveled to Britain.

The Strategic Laboratory at the state-run Adolfo Lutz Institute conducted the genetic sequencing of samples sent by a private lab on Jan. 2, and found that both cases belonged to the new strain, known as B.1.1.7, the government said.

Brazil has the world's second-highest COVID-19 death toll, after the United States, and the third-worst outbreak, after the United States and India.

Of the 196,018 COVID-19 deaths registered nationwide through Sunday, 46,845 were registered in Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous state and home to around 46 million inhabitants.

Also Monday, Chile's government confirmed the country's second case of the COVID-19 variant.

According to Chilean Health Minister Enrique Paris, the second case involves a resident of the country's south-central Maule region, who flew into the capital Santiago on Dec. 22 from Madrid, Spain.

"She is in good general condition, asymptomatic and hospitalized on a preventive basis," Paris said.

Since Dec. 30, 2020, all arriving Chileans and foreign residents must quarantine for 10 days, regardless of where they traveled to.