By MARIA CHENG, AP Medical Writer

LONDON (AP) — South African scientists have identified a new version of the coronavirus this week that they say is behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in Gauteng, the country's most populous province.

It's unclear from where the new variant actually arose, but it was first detected by scientists in South Africa and has also been seen in travelers to Hong Kong and Botswana.

Health minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an "exponential rise" of cases in the last few days, although experts are still trying to determine if the new variant is actually responsible.

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