10:25 GMT26 February 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A highly infectious variant of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom, termed B.1.1.7, has been discovered in the wastewater system of the Austrian capital, Vienna, Norbert Kreuzinger from the Institute for Water Quality and Resource Management at the Vienna University of Technology, told the ORF broadcaster on Thursday.

    "The suspicion, which arose after preliminary tests to assess whether the B.1.1.7 mutation is in Vienna's sewage water, has been confirmed", Kreuzinger told the broadcaster.

    The variant was identified in a sample of wastewater taken on 11 January, Kreuzinger added.

    Earlier on Thursday, the World Health Organisation's regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that the UK COVID-19 variant had been identified in 33 European countries.

    UK public health officials in December announced the emergence of a new strain of COVID-19 that is believed to be up to 70 percent more transmissible. The new variant was first discovered in southeast England in September and subsequently spread rapidly throughout the UK and continental Europe.

    Austria began reporting cases of the UK variant in early January. The central European country is currently under a strict lockdown which, at the present time, is set to be lifted on 7 February.

    Tags:
    Austria, coronavirus, COVID-19
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