Concern is growing after UK health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of COVID-19, that is virtually unique to the United Kingdom, and can spread more quickly than earlier coronavirus strains.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the COVID-19 technical lead for the WHO, has said that countries must take steps to control the spread of COVID-19 at this time, in particular to prevent the virus from having further opportunities to mutate, following recent discoveries of new variants of the disease in Denmark, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it will release additional information on the new mutant coronavirus strain discovered in the UK as it becomes available.

“We’re in close contact with UK officials on the new #COVID19 virus variant. They’ll continue to share info & results of their analysis & ongoing studies. We’ll update Member States & public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant & any implications,” the WHO said on Twitter.

The WHO urged people to comply with local coronavirus guidance and take protective measures.