Four more people have tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus in India, the Ministry of Health said on Friday. This takes the total official number of cases to 29. The new strain of the virus, first discovered in the United Kingdom, is believed to be 70% more transmissible.

All 29 patients are being isolated at designated health facilities.

Of the new cases, three were reported in Bengaluru and one in Hyderabad, according to NDTV.

India had reported 14 cases of the new variant on Wednesday, and five more on Thursday. The first six cases were discovered on Tuesday. India has also extended the temporary suspension on flights till January 7, 2021, to contain the spread of the new strain. More than 50 countries have imposed travel restrictions on the UK.

About the new strain

The new variant of the infection has also been reported in Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.

The new UK virus variant, which scientists have named “VUI – 202012/01”, includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein, which could result in coronavirus spreading more easily between people. It was first announced by Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, on December 14, and was subsequently confirmed by Public Health England and the UK’s Covid-19 sequencing consortium. Screening back through databases of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, the first sample was taken in the county of Kent on September 20.

The variant carries 14 defining mutations including seven in the spike protein, which mediates entry of the virus into human cells. This is a relatively large number of changes compared to the many variants in circulation globally. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed that this was as much as 70% more transmissible than previous versions. But there is currently no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause severe coronavirus infections or that it would render vaccines less effective.