First Italian case of rare new Covid variant detected in Naples

Another new variant of the coronavirus has been found in Naples, the first known case in Italy of a strain so far spotted in the UK, Denmark, Nigeria and the US.

First Italian case of rare new Covid variant detected in Naples
On the seafront in Naples, where a lab detected the first known case in Italy of a new coronavirus variant. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The B.1.525 variant was detected in a person who had recently returned from a trip to a country in Africa, the Campania region announced on Tuesday. 

It is the first time the strain has been found in Italy, after it was first identified in the UK and Nigeria in December. Since then around 130 cases have been confirmed worldwide, including in Denmark, the US, Canada, France, Australia, Spain and a few other countries. 

READ ALSO: Italian health experts call for 'urgent' lockdown amid growing concern about variants

Researchers say it has similarities to other variants that were first spotted in England, Brazil and South Africa and have since been found in countries around the world, including Italy. 

While those three variants are believed to be more contagious and more resistant to certain vaccines, it is not yet known what risk the B.1.525 strain poses.

“There is currently no evidence that this set of mutations causes more severe illness or increased transmissibility,” according to a statement by the public health authority in England, where the strain is classified as a “variant under investigation”. 

The more prevalent strain identified in the UK, B.1.1.7, now makes up 17.8 percent of new Covid-19 cases in Italy on average, estimates top Italian health agency the ISS. 

More than 500 cases have been publicly reported in Italy to date, mainly in Abruzzo and Lombardy.

MAPS: Where are the new Covid-19 variants spreading in Italy?

Around 20 cases of the Brazilian variant have been confirmed, mostly in Umbria, while at least two cases of the South African strain are known so far.

The committee of experts that advises Italy's government has called for tougher lockdown measures to “contain and slow” the spread of variants, with several prominent virologists saying current restrictions were not effective against the new strains.

Several towns and provinces where the variants have been detected have declared local lockdowns in a bid to stop them spreading further.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Smoke bombs, flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police in Naples' historic centre on Wednesday, as Eintracht Frankfurt fans descended on the city despite a ban.

Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Three German football fans and five Italians were arrested following violence in Naples before and after Napoli’s Champions League win over Eintracht Frankfurt, a local official said on Thursday.

Six police officers were injured in violence on Wednesday evening, according to Alessandro Giuliano, who is responsible for public safety in Naples.

Police were in the process of identifying 470 German fans who arrived in the city, and were scouring images to establish those responsible for the disorder, he told a press conference.

Dozens of supporters of Atalanta also joined forces with supporters of the German side, with whom they are twinned.

The first clashes occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Naples’ historic centre, and continued after the match, an easy 3-0 win for Napoli which took them through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Smoke bombs and flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police, who responded with tear gas. Later, Napoli fans were filmed by Italian media throwing objects at buses carrying Eintracht fans.

Naples mayor Gaetano Manfredi condemned the “unacceptable” violence, while opposition politicians have questioned the government’s handling of the situation, notably by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Napoli player Juan Jesus said the disorder was “bad for the city, and bad for football”.

“Because people come, then destroy, then leave, it’s not a good thing. It’s not possible to still see this in 2023, we are sorry to see these scenes,” he said.

The German supporters had travelled to southern Italy, with many arriving in Naples by train, even though Eintracht decided against selling tickets for the away section in Naples for the second leg of the last 16 tie.

Eintracht Frankfurt fans clash with anti-riot police after arriving in Naples despite not having tickets for their team’s Champions League decider with Napoli. (Photo by Ciro FUSCO / ANSA / AFP)

The Frankfurt club decided not to take up their allocation after the Naples prefecture decided on Sunday to ban residents of the German city from buying tickets.

A earlier Italian ban on Eintracht fans who lived anywhere in Germany was overturned.

Sunday’s decision came after violence in the first leg that was won 2-0 by Napoli in Frankfurt, which led to nine people being taken into custody.

Eintracht fans have been under close surveillance by European governing body UEFA since the pitch invasion which greeted the club reaching the final of the Europa League, which they won by beating Scottish club Rangers.