STA, 1 April 2021 - The highly virulent UK variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly and currently accounts for more than 40% of all cases, public health authorities said on Thursday.
Tjaša Žohar Čretnik, the head of the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food (NLZOH), said that 340 cases of the UK strain of the coronavirus were confirmed last week.
The share of the variant among genome sequencing samples has risen to almost 42% from 33% last week.
"In all the Slovenian regions, the UK variant is effectively crowding out the novel coronavirus variant which has been dominant one until now," Žohar Čretnik said, warning that this had been driving the deterioration of the epidemiological situation.
The Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, which also conducts sequencing, said that 44% of the samples it analysed between 15 and 21 March were the UK variant.
The largest share of the UK variant has been established in South-East Slovenia (78%), the northern Koroška region (68%) and the north-eastern Pomurje region (61%).
The share was the lowest in the coastal Obalno-Kraška region (24%).
Brazilian and South African variants are not spreading. A single case of the former and three cases of the latter have been confirmed in Slovenia so far.
The NLZOH has detected another specific mutation in the most prevalent coronavirus variant in the country (B1.258.17). A total of 64 cases of the mutation have been confirmed so far.
The mutation has already been detected in the South African, UK and other strains of the coronavirus, however what is new is that it has never been confirmed in the B1.258.17 variant.
Outside Slovenia, this combination has so far been recorded only in a single case in Austria, Žohar Čretnik said.
The mutation could theoretically make the virus more transmissible and will be investigated further for the experts to determine its properties and consequences.