The new British and South African variants of the coronavirus have been detected in Finland.
Three people who returned from abroad on 18 and 19 December have been diagnosed with the new strains.
Of them, 2 were infected with the new, apparently more transmissible, British variant, and 1 with the new strain found in South Africa, according to a joint press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the National Institute for health and Welfare (THL) and the Helsinki University Hospital authority (HUS).
All three patients were reported in good condition and remain in isolation for treatment.
Authorities are now working to trace their contacts and monitor people who may have been exposed to the new variants of the virus. According to the press release, those exposed have been quarantined and requested to undergo a coronavirus test.
The red lights were turned on early in the morning, when the Kouvola Sanomat newspaper reported the first case of the British variant, detected in the Kymenlaakso region (south-east Finland).
The case was confirmed by Kymsote, the health authority for the Kymenlaakso region, whose main city is Kouvola.
Now, the authorities' biggest concern is preventing the spread of new variants of the coronavirus. Researchers have estimated that the British mutation spreads up to 70% faster than the conventional Covid-19 virus.
Finland advised travelers arriving from Britain from 7 December to undergo coronavirus tests, even if they have no symptoms. This recommendation has now been extended to people arriving from South Africa, also as of 7 December.
Other Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark have also reported cases of the new British variant of the coronavirus.