In the latest update of genetic analyses of the new coronavirus, released on 12 January, the INSA states that the data on the new, more contagious variant detected in the United Kingdom "point to the existence of community transmission".

INSA, which has already analysed 2,342 sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 genome from samples taken from infected people, has detected "38 new sequences of the new variant" in samples taken at Lisbon and Porto airports and in all health regions of the country except Madeira.

"So far, a total of 72 cases of infection associated with this new variant have been detected in Portugal, spread over the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and the Azores and over 10 districts of mainland Portugal, in a total of 28 municipalities", the Institute states.

Since the new coronavirus was detected in Portugal, INSA has analysed 2,342 sequences of the genetic profile of SARS-CoV-2 collected from 69 institutions and representing 199 municipalities.

The World Health Organisation has already warned that variants of the new coronavirus will continue to appear and has argued that the process of discovery and genetic sequencing must be speeded up to accompany them.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus stressed at the end of December that it is necessary to increase the capacity of laboratories around the world to be able to discover the genome sequences of the virus mutations that appear, which can only be achieved with testing.