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UK Variant Spiked COVID-19 Cases on Cyprus During Lockdown

NICOSIA — Moving to ease a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, Cyprus said a variant of the Coronavirus from the United Kingdom was responsible for 25.7 percent of cases in the first two months of 2021.

That also likely explained why the number of cases jumped even as the government, eager to get tourists back, is reopening to foreign travelers to bolster a sagging economy brought down by the pandemic.

The island first reported cases of the strain, known as B.1.1.7, in early January, after tests on positive samples taken in December 2020, said Reuters, the strain 30-100 percent more deadly than the original.

That was reported by researchers in the British Medical Journal, with the news agency adding that Cyprus’ Health Ministry found the variant also 50 percent more contagious, seeing cases soar especially among the young.

That was different from the common strain that targeted mostly the elderly and those with underlying or multiple conditions and more likely to bring death to them.

Cyprus’ numbers have been going up and down markedly during the more than year-long pandemic but climbed again in March with some 38,065 cases reported and 235 deaths.

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