New virus strain reaches hard-hit Brazil

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The first two cases of a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus have been detected in Brazil, the health secretariat of the state of Sao Paulo says.

The Instituto Adolfo Lutz, a national reference laboratory in Sao Paulo, confirmed the cases on Monday.

One of the patients was described as a 25-year-old woman who lives in Sao Paulo and has had contact with travellers who have been to Europe.

The other person is a 34-year-old whose background and place of residence are still being checked by authorities.

Two other suspicious cases were not confirmed, the news portal G1 reported, citing the health secretary of the state of Sao Paulo.

Brazil is one of the hotspots of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 7.75 million people have been infected and in excess of 196,500 have died in connection with COVID-19.

With more than 40 million inhabitants, Sao Paulo is the most populous Brazilian federal state and one of the regions most affected by the pandemic.

More than 1.47 million people are infected in the state, which has recorded 46,800 deaths.