Naples detects rare new covid-19 variant never seen in Italy

First time the rare covid-19 variant has been detected in Italy.

A new, rare variant of the covid-19 virus has been detected in the southern Italian city of Naples, in the first known case in Italy of the "B. 1. 525" strain.

News of the strain was announced by the regional Campania government last night after it was identified by the Federico II University and the Pascale research institute in Naples.

So far they have been around 100 cases of the strain found around the world, including in Denmark, Nigeria, the UK and the US, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

"For now we do not know the variant's power of infection or its other characteristics, as is the case with many rare variants," the regional government said in a statement.

The strain was detected after a "professional returning from a trip to Africa" tested positive for covid-19, said the region.

The news comes days after Italy's health ministry made the last-minute decision to keep the country's ski slopes closed due to the "widespread circulation" of variants of covid-19.

There are already local lockdowns in place in a number of towns and provinces where virus variants have been detected and in recent days several prominent virologists have called for lockdown on a nationwide level.

For official updates regarding covid-19 in Italy see the Italian health ministry website.