Belgium confirms case of new, heavily mutated Covid variant

Advice on how to protect yourself against the coronavirus can be seen on a poster standing in the market square in Brügge, Belgium. In the background, the town hall with the Belfry, an 80-metre-high tower, one of the city’s landmarks.

Bernd Thissen | picture alliance | Getty Images

Belgium has confirmed a case of the new, heavily mutated variant of the virus that causes Covid-19, according to one of the country’s leading virologists.

Marc Van Ranst, who works with the Rega Institute, said a sample was confirmed as the novel B.1.1.529 variant in a traveler who returned from Egypt on Nov. 11. The patient first showed symptoms on Nov. 22.

Belgium is home to the capital of the European Union in Brussels.

The variant was first detected in a small number of samples in South Africa, according to the World Health Organization. There were also reports on Friday morning that cases had been found in Israel and Hong Kong.

The B.1.1.529 variant contains 30 mutations to the spike protein that allows the virus to enter the body, scientist Tulio de Oliveira said Thursday during a briefing held by the South African Department of Health. The new strain has roughly 50 mutations in total, including 10 to the part of the virus that first comes in contact with cells.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.



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