SAO PAULO, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Two cases of the new strain of COVID-19 detected in the United Kingdom have been identified in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, leading authorities on Thursday to call for stepped up measures to curb the spread.
"It is not a cause for panic. This strain does not come with more serious forms of the disease, but it does come with greater power to cause infection," the Secretary of Health for the state of Sao Paulo, Jean Gorynchtein, said in a televised broadcast.
The cases with the new variant were detected by private diagnostic laboratory Dasa, which informed the state's Adolfo Lutz Institute and the Secretariat of Health Monitoring for further analysis.
Known as B.1.1.7, the variant that emerged in the United Kingdom has been detected in 17 other countries.
"We were following these cases. They were doing tests on people who had traveled to London or had contact with travelers," Gorynchtein said.
"As this variant has more transmission power, it is necessary to maintain all safety measures such as the use of a face mask and (social) distancing," he added.
The South American country has the third-largest COVID-19 outbreak in the world, after the United States and India, and the second-highest death toll behind the United States.