British Covid strain detected in Switzerland in October

Two masked porters at a luxury hotel in St Moritz, eastern Switzerland, on Monday Keystone / Giancarlo Cattaneo

The British mutation of the coronavirus first appeared in Switzerland in October, two months earlier than previously thought, the federal health office has confirmed.

This content was published on January 20, 2021 minutes

So far 479 infections with mutated coronaviruses have been recorded in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The British mutation B1.1.7, which is believed to be more infectious but not more dangerous than the initial strain, has infected 281 people, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said on Wednesday. Twelve infections could be attributed to the South African variant B1.351.

In addition, the FOPH said it had counted 186 infections caused by a coronavirus with an unexplained mutation line.

The office also confirmed media reports that the British mutation had been detected in a sample from canton Vaud in western Switzerland on October 26 and reported on January 5. Until now the authorities had assumed a first occurrence of this virus variant at the beginning of December on the basis of wastewater samples.

The highest number of infections with mutations of the virus, 109, occurred in canton Bern, the FOPH said. The mutations are widespread in 18 cantons and in neighbouring Liechtenstein.

However, the figures should be taken with caution, it added. The figures represented significant underestimates in cantons where gene sequencing was used to search for mutations in only a few or no samples.

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