Italian officials say they identified the strain in a couple who flew from the UK to Rome
Cases of the new coronavirus strain spreading rapidly in the UK have been confirmed in Denmark, Italy, Gibraltar, the Netherlands and Australia.
France and South Africa also believe they have cases of the mutation – known as VUI-202012/01 – but these have not been confirmed.
French health minister Olivier Veran said it is “entirely possible” the new variant is already circulating in France, but no cases have been officially identified yet.
First detected in London and the South East earlier this month, it is up to 70% more infectious than the original strain because it has a much bigger viral load.
It is now present in all parts of the UK apart from Northern Ireland.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 technical lead, confirmed nine cases in Denmark and a number of others in the Netherlands and Australia late on Sunday.