Argentina confirms first case of new variant of coronavirus
Published: Jan 17, 2021 02:15 PM

People wearing face masks walk on a street in Buenos Aries, Argentina, on July 12, 2020. (Photo by Martin Zabala/Xinhua)

The Argentinean government confirmed on Saturday the first case in the country of a new coronavirus variant that was first identified in Britain and appears to be more contagious.

The new variant was detected in a traveler who arrived asymptomatic in Argentina from Germany at the end of December 2020, Argentina's Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Roberto Salvarezza wrote on Twitter.

Salvarezza said that the Inter-institutional Genomics Project of SARS-CoV-2 under his ministry first detected the traveler's entry into the country and that studies carried out at Ezeiza International Airport determined the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antigens, with a laboratory later confirming the presence of the variant.

Argentina had registered 1,783,047 COVID-19 cases and 45,227 deaths as of Friday.

With an exponential growth in confirmed cases in recent weeks, the Argentine government has extended preventive and mandatory social distancing measures to Jan. 31.