Lisbon, Dec 24 : Three new variants of the novel coronavirus were detected in Portugal amidst the ongoing second wave of the pandemic in the country, a top health official has confirmed.
"We now verify, in this study in collaboration with the Gulbenkian Institute of Science (IGC), that the (genetic) variants of this second wave in Portugal have mutations that were not described throughout the first wave," Xinhua news agency quoted Joao Paulo Gomes from the Bioinformatics Unit at the Department of Infectious Diseases, National Health Institute, as saying on Wednesday.
The three variants detected in all regions of Portugal are in a "process of adaptation of the virus to humans", Gomes said, suggesting that they were mainly responsible for the second wave.
"It is normal for this to happen, it has been a year since the virus appeared to infect human beings, so it is perfectly normal," the expert said.
"In clinical terms there is no evidence" that the variants are "more severe in terms of the disease".
but the increase in cases may be due to their greater transmission capacity, he added.
Portugal reported 4,602 new coronavirus cases and 89 more fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing its national caseload to 383,258 and the death toll to 6,343.
Portugal's development comes after two new mutant Covid-19 variants were discovered in Britain in the last few days, leading to global suspension of flights to and from the UK.