An entirely new coronavirus variant has been discovered in the French region of Brittany, the French Ministry of Health announced Monday.
According to the ministry, the new variant was found in a cluster of cases in a hospital in the regional town of Lannion. While the ministry announced that eight cases of a new mutation called the "Breton variant" were detected, the General Directorate of Health reported that their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were negative.
It also stressed that the initial analysis did not show that the new variant is more infectious or deadly than other mutations. It did not provide any further details.
The country has recorded over 4 million coronavirus cases since the novel coronavirus first emerged in December 2019 in China. French health authorities reported the number of people in intensive care units (ICU) with COVID-19 had risen on Monday by 92 in the previous 24 hours to 4,219, the highest level since late November.
The health ministry website, Geodes, also reported a preliminary 333 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals, up from 140 on Sunday and a seven-day moving average of 261. Over the weekend, hospitals in the Paris area – which account for more than a quarter of all COVID-19 patients in intensive care units – begun transferring patients to other parts of France to reduce the burden on the capital's health care system.