The highly contagious coronavirus variant has been detected in a family that recently traveled from South Africa to the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

A coronavirus variant that was identified in South Africa has been detected in Germany for the first time, the Social Affairs
Ministry in the state of Baden-Württemberg said on Tuesday.

The infection was detected one individual that had recently traveled to Germany with family after a long stay in South Africa. 

All of the family members had reportedly tested negative for the coronavirus five days after arrival.

However, a week later, several family members began showing mild symptoms. Six people from three households are now confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus, and one infection is of the South African variant.

Samples from the other family members are now being tested to determine if the South African variant is present, the ministry said.

More transmissible

The South African variant, and another originating in the United Kingdom, appear to be more transmissible than the original virus.

Although health experts do not yet consider the mutated coronavirus to be more dangerous, its accelerated spread presents a greater challenge to public health officials, who are racing to vaccinate populations.

Vaccine makers have said that vaccines currently available should be effective against the new variant.

The UK variant has already been detected in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the UK variant could “take the lead over the old virus” in a very short amount of time, adding that there is a danger of exponential growth of cases.

“That’s why we need to be extremely careful,” Merkel said.