Romania detects first case of new coronavirus strain

BUCHAREST, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Romanian Health Ministry on Friday reported the country's first case of the new coronavirus strain, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom (UK) last month.

One of the COVID-19 strains sequenced at Romania's Matei Bals National Institute for Infectious Diseases matches the high transmissibility variant identified in the UK, the ministry said, adding that the patient is in a "very good" clinical condition in isolation at home.

According to Catalin Apostolescu, spokesman of the Matei Bals Institute, the 27-year-old female patient, who had no recent overseas travel record, presented herself on Jan. 3 with minimal symptoms.

The sequencing process was required after suspicious mutations were observed on the PCR test, Apostolescu was quoted by local media as saying. Contact tracing is ongoing.

"If the information provided by the patient is valid, it means that the virus is already circulating in Romania. ... We can expect an increase in the number of cases," Apostolescu told local B1 TV station.

On Friday, Romania reported 4,841 new coronavirus cases and 96 fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of confirmed cases and deaths to 663,799 and 16,506, respectively.

Romania had launched its vaccination campaign at the end of 2020, with priority given to frontline medical workers.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Romania and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 235 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 6.

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