Greece has detected 32 cases of the British variant of COVID-19, health authorities said late on Sunday, with the country’s Network of Genomic Monitoring planning more intensive checks in the coming weeks for the potentially more deadly virus.
Laboratory tests of 235 samples taken at border entry points, hospitals and people in close contact with a confirmed case of the mutant virus showed that 33 were positive for the Β117 mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Health authorities said 17 of the positive samples were detected in Athens.
Britain has attributed the high transmission rates that led it to impose a recent lockdown partly to a highly contagious variant that was first identified in southeast England and is now prevalent in many areas.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the new variant may be associated with a higher level of mortality, although scientists have said the evidence on that remained uncertain.
Greece, in its second lockdown since early November due to a spike in coronavirus cases, has seen pressure on its public health system relent in the last few weeks, and has begun to loosen curbs.
The government has reopened primary schools, kindergartens, retail shops and hair salons. On Monday it will reopen high schools.
On Sunday, health authorities reported 334 new COVID-19 cases nationwide and 24 related deaths, bringing the total number of infections since the first case was detected in February 2020 to 151980, and total deaths to 5,646.