THE British variant of COVID-19 is currently behind 15% of new infections in Andalucia, the Junta has revealed.

Regional health minister Jesus Aguirre told a press conference today that the more contagious strain is particualrly present in Cadiz and Malaga.

“The first impact was detected in the Campo de Gibraltar,” he said, “and it is currently most established in Cadiz, Malaga and Sevilla.

“We know that it is more contagious but while some studies suggest it is more deadly, that is not yet confirmed.”

Spokesperson for the so-called committee of experts (Advisory Council for High Impact Public Health Emergencies) Inmaculada Salcedo said there were at least 77 cases of the British variant detected in Andalucia on Monday alone.

Salcedo said the vaccines would continue to be effective against the strain and that it is crucial preventative measures are kept to.

Director of health emergencies for Spain Fernando Simon previously said the British variant could be the dominant strain in the country by mid-March.

Head of the Microbiology Service of the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, ??Tomas Pumarola, said today that the strain, also known as B117, is between 30 and 50% more transmissible than any previous variant.

“These variants not only have greater transmissibility, they probably also have greater biological efficacy,” Pumarola said this Tuesday in statements to Europa Press.

Pumarola said the likely expansion of the British variant in Spain, given the situation of other countries in Europe, will translate into a ‘greater number of cases’ as it has a greater transmission capacity.

He played down reports that the strain was more deadly than others, however, saying there is not enough data to support the claim.

“If I get infected with one of these variants, I have the same probability of having a severe condition as with the previous variants, which is reassuring because most of the population has mild and even asymptomatic symptoms,” he said.

Tough weeks ahead for Andalucia

It comes as the Junta has warned of a rough 15 days ahead, with the peak of the third wave still not believed to have been reached.

The region is now considering closing all non-essential businesses across the whole region this week.

That measure is already in place for towns with a 14-day cumulative incidence rate of 1,000 cases per 100,000 people or more.

Marbella, Jerez and Almeria will adopt the restriction as of tomorrow after crossing the 1,000 case threshold at the weekend.

Juanma Moreno’s government yet again asked Madrid for extra powers to implement an 8pm curfew and home confinements in the hardest hit zones.

Its requests have so far been rejected by the national health ministry.

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