COVID-19 is mutating and there are now at least two strains of the virus, scientists have said.
Researchers in China say the more aggressive strain, dubbed ‘type L’, accounts for 70% of cases.
Doctors at the Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institute Pasteur of Shanghai dubbed the less prevalent strain as ‘type S’.
While the L type was seen more frequently in Wuhan, where the disease originated, scientists noted that the frequency of infection has dropped off.
Researchers also said their data so far is ‘very limited’ and that further investigation will be needed to comprehend how COVID-19 is developing.
“Whereas the L type was more prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, the frequency of the L type decreased after early January 2020,” they wrote.
“Human intervention may have placed more severe selective pressure on the L type, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly.”
They added that more strains are possible before urging the scientific community to work together to fight and contain the epidemic.
They said in a report: “These findings strongly support an urgent need for further immediate, comprehensive studies that combine genomic data, epidemiological data, and chart records of the clinical symptoms of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
It comes as Spain has told businesses to stop all activities if they discover an infection among the workforce or fear their employees may be at ‘significant or imminent risk’ of infection.
In a new guide for business owners, it added that they can also implement working from home.
Any decisions taken must protect workers’ rights while quarantines and isolation of employees must be authorised by the labour ministry.