Denmark says cases of more contagious British coronavirus variant on rise

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The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The share of people infected with the more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain is on the rise in Denmark, authorities reported on Wednesday, citing preliminary data.

In the first week of February, 27% of positive cases analyzed for their genetic material were carrying the B117 variant, up from 20% the week before, the State Serum Institute (SSI) said in a report.

Denmark is a front-runner in genome sequencing being used to analyze the genetic material of the coronavirus to determine variants.

The reproductive number for the new variant, which indicates how many one person transmits the virus to, is 0.99%, SSI said on Tuesday, meaning the virus is currently on a slight decline.

General infection numbers are falling in Denmark after the government instituted hard lockdown measures in December, with just 470 cases registered in the last 24 hours, down from thousands of daily infections late last year.

A total of 1,690 people have been infected with the new variant first detected in Britain.

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; editing by John Stonestreet and Giles Elgood)