Slovenia confirms first case of new strain of coronavirus


LJUBLJANA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The new variant of coronavirus first identified in Britain has been officially confirmed in Slovenia, Prime Minister Janez Jansa announced on Sunday.

The new strain was detected in a person from Serbia's region of Kosovo who was in Belgium on company business. He arrived in Slovenia on Saturday and had tested twice, with one coming back positive and one negative, Jansa told a press conference.

In addition to the first confirmed case, another two cases of the coronavirus variant are suspected as a result of the testing of 80 Slovenian samples, Jansa said, adding that it was possible the variant has been in circulation in Slovenia for a while.

The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) plans to retroactively check tests from all regions that have come back positive since Jan. 11, in order to get "a clear enough picture" of the potential prevalence of the variant in the country.

While kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school will reopen on Tuesday as scheduled after nearly three months of closure, Jansa noted that the situation was prone to change in the event the variant becomes more widespread.

Slovenia on Sunday registered 537 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the national tally of confirmed cases to 157,838, Thirty-one new deaths took the death toll to 3,360, according to official figures.

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

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 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. 22.

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