London (IP) - The World Health Organization is investigating a new variant of coronavirus that has popped up in Great Britain.

Iran PressEurope: The mutations include changes to the important 'spike' protein that the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) uses to infect human cells, a group of scientists tracking the genetics of the virus said, but it is not yet clear whether these are making it more infectious, US News reported.

"Efforts are underway to confirm whether or not any of these mutations are contributing to increased transmission," the scientists, from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The British government on Monday cited a rise in new infections, which it said may be partly linked to the new variant, as it moved its capital city and many other areas into the highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions.

As of Dec. 13, 1,108 COVID-19 cases with the new variant had been identified, predominantly in the south and east of England, Public Health England said in a statement.

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