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New COVID-19 strain spreads to Italy, Denmark, Netherlands

New COVID-19 strain spreads to Italy, Denmark, Netherlands
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Health officials in a handful of countries on Tuesday reported new coronavirus cases involving people infected with a mutated strain of the virus that is believed to be more infectious.

Sky News reported that the new strain has now been detected in Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Gibraltar.

Officials in France and South Africa also reportedly believe that they have cases of the new strain as well, but have not yet confirmed them.

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Australian health officials said Monday that two people traveling from the U.K. had arrived in the country with the new strain of COVID-19, but it was not believed to be spreading locally.

The new strain's spread comes despite travel restrictions on U.K. flights in multiple countries. 

Health experts believe that the new strain of COVID-19 may be more infectious due to a higher viral load that makes transmission easier. Detection of the strain in the U.K., the first country to identify the strain, forced the country's prime minister to order a shutdown of Christmas shopping across Britain and order new restrictions on public life just days before the holiday.

Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyOvernight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Can Cheney defy the odds and survive again? Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE, President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenRepublican seeks to use Obama energy policies to criticize Biden  WSJ editorial board: 'Purging Liz Cheney for honesty would diminish' GOP DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE's selection to be U.S. surgeon general, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the new, more infectious strain of coronavirus was not necessarily more deadly.

“This news from the U.K. appears to be about a new strain of the virus that’s more transmissible, more contagious than the virus we’ve seen prior to this,” Murthy, who served as surgeon general in the Obama administration, said. “While it seems to be more transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it.”