A more contagious strain of the coronavirus that causes covid-19 has been discovered in Luxembourg. Pictured: 3D illustration of coronavirus variant mutation. Image credit: Shutterstock 

Luxembourg’s National Health Laboratory (LNS) found the variant while processing samples that were collected between 19-29 December, the health ministry said on Saturday.

“An investigation by the public health service into the origin of this case is in progress,” the ministry stated.

The coronavirus variant was first detected in the UK late last year. According to initial studies, “the new strain is more contagious than the original strain, with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70%. These figures need to be confirmed by further epidemiological and virological investigations,” the ministry said.

While the strain does not cause a more severe form of covid-19 and is not known to be more deadly, it could put more pressure on the health system. Its “greater contagiousness could have a greater impact on the number of hospitalisations and the number of deaths.”

The health ministry reminded residents to observe health precautions, such as wearing a mask, frequently washing hands and maintaining physical distancing.

In addition to the UK, the variant has been detected in all three of Luxembourg’s neighbouring countries, at least 10 other European states, as well as several Asian and middle eastern nations.