HEALTH officials in Spain have identified new cases of the South African strain of coronavirus in Andalucia. 

Three more cases of a mutant strain, first discovered in South Africa in December, were identified in Malaga on Monday.

All three are said to have tested positive for the virus following air travel. 

One person tested positive after travelling from Senegal and entering the region on a Morocco-Malaga flight , another departed from Equatorial Guinea to Madrid in Spain, and the third patient caught a flight from Tanzania to the capital with a stopover in Amsterdam.

It comes after the regional government reported the first case of the strain in Andalusia after a patient tested positive in Granada after travelling from Equatorial Guinea. 

According to a recent report from the Health Ministry, the B.1.1.7 strain now accounts for nearly 70% of new cases in Asturias and close to 50% in Catalonia. The document stated that a total of 916 infections of the new variants have been detected in Spain, most of which correspond to the strains detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Minister of Health and Families, Jesús Aguirre said the new variants brought  ‘new complications’ in Spain’s fight against the virus. 

Scientists have expressed concerns over this strain which was first discovered in South Africa in December 2020.

The strain carries the N501Y mutation – found in the UK variant – and the E484K mutation. It is believed to have spread to at least 20 other countries.

Companies behind the vaccines have seen the effectiveness of their jabs dip when it comes up against this strain of the virus.

South Africa recently halted the rollout of the controversial AstraZeneca jab after a study showed ‘disappointing’ results against the country’s dominant strain.

Research carried out by experts at the University of the Witwatersrand said that the vaccine offered ‘minimal protection’ against mild to moderate infection.

Yesterday Spain announced it has suspended the use of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines for the next 15 days after fatal blood clots were reported by people getting the COVID-19 jab in Scandinavia.

The announcement was made this evening(March 15) by the Health Ministry as a precaution and follows in the footsteps of suspensions by France, Germany, and Italy.

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