Unique coronavirus mutations have been found among infected people on a bus trip in Southern Norway.

Minister of Health Bent Høie (H) confirmed the information on Tuesday morning.

“The virus belongs to a genetic subgroup and has unique mutations that we have not seen in Norway before. 

“One of these mutations could possibly increase the virus’s ability to infect cells and thus make the virus somewhat more contagious,” he said.

More than 100 cases of infection are linked to the six-day bus trip that started on Tuesday, September 15.

The travel group visited six accommodations on the trip through Eastern Norway, Dovre, and Western Norway. 

The passengers came from Jæren and were aged 67 to 84 years.

Unique mutations

The National Institute of Public Health (FHI) has examined the coronavirus’s genetic material from several of the people infected on the bus. 

A variant of the virus has been detected with a different ability to bind itself to the cells in humans.

The virus belongs to a genetic subgroup of the coronavirus called B. 1,160.

FHI stated that this is the first time this mutation has been discovered in the country and that it is uncertain how and when the virus came to Norway.

May affect infectivity

Section leader Karoline Bragstad at the FHI says that they have no information that this virus causes a more serious form of the disease.

“Viruses with this mutation can affect infectivity, and it is, therefore, important to follow developments. 

“Further investigations will probably provide more clarity as to whether we had this virus present in Norway before the outbreak related to the bus journey and whether we will see the further spread of this variant in Norway,” she noted.

In the past, there have been major outbreaks of viruses with the same mutation in Australia. 

Similar viruses have also been detected in the UK and some other European countries.

According to the FHI, the passengers on the bus trip have caused local cases of infection in Røros, Lillehammer, Dovre, Molde, Førde, and Kvam, among other places. 

This content was originally published here.