Mysterious coronavirus variant in Arctic Finland is rare US-Mexican strain

About 350 people in Kemijärvi were placed in quarantine last month. (Tapani Leisti / Yle)
The chain of coronavirus infections in the Kemijärvi region last month has since calmed.

A mysterious coronavirus variant detected in the Lapland municipality of Kemijärvi in late March has been found to be a rare American-Mexican strain of the virus.

Genetic sequence of the variant showed that it was not one of the British, Brazilian or South African strains blamed for the recent upsurge in infections across Europe.

“The infections in Lake Kemijärvi were an American-Mexican variant, which has previously been known to have been diagnosed only once before in Finland,” Lapland Hospital District’s Markku Broas said, adding that the Kemijärvi infections may have had a connection to Central America.

Nine infections were found in the Kemijärvi region last month and about 350 people were quarantined. The chain of infection has since been broken.

On Friday, Lapland’s first South African variant of the virus was diagnosed in Rovaniemi.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Arctic Tourism & the Pandemic podcast, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Traffic, mobile data show Lapland travellers not deterred by worsening COVID situation in Finland, Yle News

Denmark/Greenland: Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland:  UK variant cases prompt Iceland to tighten up border measures and domestic restrictions, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway extends border closure with Finland due to pandemic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Norway closes borders over fears of virus, but exempts Russian fishermen from severely infected border region, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: COVID-19 strategy darkens Sweden’s image in the Nordics, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska politicians send Trudeau letter saying they’re “shocked” over Canada’s COVID-19 cruise ship ban, Eye on the Arctic

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