Russia confirms first case of new coronavirus strain

sputnik-v vaccine (

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has confirmed its first case of the new strain of the coronavirus.

The infection was confirmed in a person returning to Russia from the United Kingdom, Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s federal public-health agency, Rospotrebnadzor, told state-run television channel Rossia-1.

Popova did not specify when the individual tested positive or provide any other details.

The new strain, referred to as B.1.1.7, is believed to have emerged in England in September 2020 and has since been detected in dozens of countries around the world.

Officials in Moscow temporarily suspended flights to and from the United Kingdom in December, following similar moves by dozens of other countries in the wake of the emergence of the new strain.

Russia has one of the highest infection rates in the world, and officials on January 10 confirmed a total of nearly 3.5 million cases. The number of deaths is nearly 61,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Russia has placed its hopes in the domestically produced Sputnik-V vaccine instead of lockdown measures.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said last week that more than 800,000 people had received the vaccine and that 1.5 million doses had been distributed.