By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has detected the COVID-19 virus variant in two people who came to Norway from the United Kingdom in December.

Image/Robert Herriman

The infection detection teams in the municipalities will now follow up in accordance with current routines for people who are diagnosed with the English virus variant, with extra testing and closer follow-up of close contacts to reduce the risk of possible further spread, says department director Line Vold at the National Institute of Public Health.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is the national reference laboratory for coronavirus. The institute collects viruses from all the country’s microbiological laboratories for examinations of their genome (the overall genetic code). The institute has strengthened its monitoring of changes in viruses to detect the English virus variant and any other new virus variants that may have changed infectivity or other properties. Additional measures have also been implemented at the borders to reduce the risk of further introduction of the new virus and other viruses.

The English virus variant appears to be more contagious than the common coronavirus, but it does not appear to give any greater risk of serious illness from what we know at present. A few cases of this variant have been detected in a dozen European countries, but there is reason to believe that the variant can also be found in countries where the genome of the virus is not examined, and therefore no mutations can be detected. When more countries start with such surveys, we will gain a better insight into the prevalence of this variant, Vold explains.

It is currently only in parts of England that it is considered that the variant may have contributed to rapid growth in the epidemic. Investigations are still underway to be able to say something more certain about this. In Denmark, the virus has been present for several weeks without changing the infection situation.

There is reason to be cautious, but at the same time it is still uncertain how important the variant plays for the spread of infection, Vold concludes and continues: – The usual measures against the epidemic, such as staying home when you are ill, testing, infection detection and quarantine, keeping distance and fewer participants at gatherings will be important infection control measures against this variant as well. So far, no evidence has been reported that the effect of the vaccine has been affected.