A resident of a nursing home holds the hand of a staff worker before receiving a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Athens, Greece, January 13, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

ATHENS – Greek authorities announced on Sunday that the first case of the mutated coronavirus strain detected in South Africa was diagnosed in Thessaloniki city in northern Greece.

The patient who tested positive for this strain is an official with the Greek Orthodox Christian Church, said Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection and Crisis Management.

“We are conducting sweeping screening tests, with molecular tests and rapid tests, in the wider area… There is no reason to panic,” he told Greek national broadcaster ERT.

Panagiotis Arkoumaneas, president of the National Public Health Organization (EODY), called on citizens to take all precautions and comply with instructions given by experts.

EODY announced on Sunday that 107 cases of the mutated strain first identified in Britain have been recorded in Greece following analysis of samples taken in the period of Jan 12 to Jan 27, bringing the total cases of such strain to 173 in the country.

Greece has been under a nationwide lockdown since Nov 7. On Friday it was further extended till Feb 8.

On Sunday EODY announced 484 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, taking the tally since the start of the pandemic in Greece last winter to 156,957.

EODY also confirmed another 17 deaths, bringing the toll to 5,796.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan 26.