Minister: New virus variant ‘Deltacron’ detected in Cyprus

Cypriots wait in line to receive the third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a walk-in vaccination centre in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, on Jan 4, 2022. (IAKOVIS HATZISTAVROU / AFP)

MADRID / STOCKHOLM / MEXICO CITY / NICOSIA – A new COVID-19 variant which was dubbed Deltacron has been identified in Cyprus, but it is not presently a source of alarm, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Saturday.

The new variant was identified by a team led by Leondios Kostrikis, head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology at the University of Cyprus.

Leonidos Kostrikis, head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology at the University of Cyprus, told local media that the new SARS-CoV-2 mutation shares the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron, hence it's named Deltacron

Kostrikis told local media that the new SARS-CoV-2 mutation shares the genetic background of the Delta variant along with some of the mutations of Omicron, hence it's named Deltacron.

He said that his team had identified 25 samples taken in Cyprus, after sequencing 1,377 samples as part of a program for tracing possible mutations of the coronavirus in Cyprus.

"The frequency of the mutations was higher among those in hospital, which could mean there is a correlation between Deltacron and hospitalizations," he said.

"It does not presently raise any concerns," Hadipantelas said.

Cyprus is currently in the grip of a fifth wave of the pandemic, which has caused new infections to soar to around 5,500 per day, in a population of less than a million.

The Cyprus National Surveillance Report on COVID-19 released on Friday said that a record number of 28,414 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed from Dec 21, 2021 to Jan 3, 2022.

The median age of infected people was 28 years, indicating a fast-spreading of the virus among the youths.

Mexico

Mexico hit a record in confirmed daily COVID-19 cases on Saturday, according to official data, posting more than 30,000 additional infections as the highly contagious respiratory disease spread in the country.

The health ministry tallied 30,671 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, after registering more than 20,000 new infections on each of the previous three days.

COVID-19 fatalities, however, have not shown a similar spike in recent days, with 202 confirmed deaths on Saturday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Mexico since the pandemic began stands at 4,113,789, with 300,303 confirmed fatalities, the fifth highest official death toll worldwide.

Mexican health authorities have said that both confirmed cases and the overall death toll likely represent a significant undercount due to the lack of widespread testing.

Spain

Spain's confirmed COVID-19 cases has passed the 7 million benchmark and the death toll is likely to reach 90,000 soon, according to the latest figures published by the Ministry of Health.

The data, which was published late on Friday night, showed 7.164,906 people have been infected by COVID-19, with 242,440 new cases reported in the 48-hour period between 14:00 on Wednesday until the same time on Friday.

The same period also saw the confirmation of 97 more deaths in the country due to the virus, lifting the death toll since the start of the pandemic to 89,934.

ALSO READ: Omicron curbs from Japan to Spain wreak havoc on air travel

Spain is suffering the sixth wave of infections due to the Omicron variant, with the last million cases confirmed in just 10 days since the country crossed the 6-million cases mark on Dec 28 and with a 46 percent increase in cases over the past week.

The 14-day incidence of the virus continued to rise and hit a new high of 2,722 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Friday.

Children returned to school on Jan 10 with the Health Ministry on Friday agreeing that if five COVID-19 cases are detected in a class, then all the children in the class will be subject to quarantine. 

This file photo taken on Oct 25, 2020 shows Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden on the golden bridge ”Slussbron” after its inauguration in Stockholm, Sweden. Crown Princess Victoria has tested positive one more time for COVID-19, the Swedish Royal Court said on Jan 8, 2021. (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP)

Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has tested positive for COVID-19, the Royal Court said on Saturday, only days after King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia also tested positive.

"The Crown Princess, who is fully vaccinated, has cold symptoms but is otherwise well. Infection tracing has been initiated," the Court said in a press release.

The Crown Princess and her family are in isolation in their home.

It was the second time that Crown Princess Victoria tested positive. Last March, she and her husband Prince Daniel tested positive.

The Royal Court said on Tuesday that after positive test results, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Victoria had mild symptoms.

The Swedish Public Health Agency said earlier that the Omicron variant is spreading fast in the country where it has become the dominant strain.

Nearly 24,000 cases were confirmed in the country on Wednesday, according to the Swedish Public Health Agency.

This was considerably more than the previous record number of just over 17,000 infected that were confirmed during a 24-hour period earlier in the week.

The cumulative number of confirmed cases since the pandemic started is nearly 1.417 million among the population of 10.4 million.

The statistics also show that the total number of deaths in the country was 15,377 by Friday.

According to official figures, 86 percent of the population aged 12 and over have had at least one dose of vaccine, while 82.2 percent had been vaccinated at least twice, and 32.3 percent of those aged 18 and older had received the third dose.