Iran finds first case of new virus variant in traveller from UK

People walk on a street after Tehran reopened following a two-week shutdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Iran December 6, 2020. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has registered its first case of a highly contagious coronavirus variant that emerged in Britain after an Iranian arrived from the UK, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on Tuesday.

At the same time the health ministry reported that Iran, the country worst hit by the coronavirus in the Middle East, had recorded its lowest daily death toll in nearly seven months.

“Unfortunately, we found the first case of the mutated British COVID-19 from a dear compatriot who had returned from England... and who was admitted to one of our private hospitals,” Namaki told state TV.

“We did not find any trace of this virus in the patient’s relatives.”

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that Iran had recorded 98 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, its lowest figure since June 18, taking the total to 55,748.

There were 6,113 new cases, taking the total of identified cases to 1,255,620.

In late December, Iran extended a nighttime traffic curfew to hundreds of lower-risk cities and towns in an effort to sustain a decline in the number of new coronavirus infections and deaths.

The curfew banned the use of private cars to reduce the level of contacts between people.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Kevin Liffey and Jason Neely