Canada, Sweden and Spain have been included in the list of nations to have reported cases of the more contagious strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom.

Four cases of the new viral strain have been confirmed in Madrid. The infections involve people who have recently arrived from Britain, the government's regional deputy health director, Antonio Zapatero, told a media briefing Saturday.

In Canada, health authorities confirmed two cases of the variant. Ontario's local officials said the cases were discovered as the province ordered a lockdown, Saturday. A couple in southern Ontario with no known travel history had been diagnosed with the virus.

In Sweden, the strain was detected in a traveler from the UK who had fallen sick. Swedish health authorities said the traveler had been put in isolation and that no further infections had been detected.

Swedish health officials have ordered all those in the country who traveled from the UK after December 12 to be tested for COVID-19.

The UK has ordered the closure of shops selling non-essential goods, fitness centers, and swimming pools and has restricted the mixing of indoor households.

The new variant, labeled VUI-202012/01, has caused major concern among doctors and world leaders as it is believed to be 70 percent more contagious, which means it has the capacity to spread faster.

"The patients are not severely ill, we know that this variant is more transmissible but it doesn't cause more serious illness," The Guardian quoted Zapatero as saying. "There's no need for alarm."

After the strain was detected in southeast England, nations across the globe rushed to shut their borders to the UK and prevent the virus from sickening their citizens.

In Japan, health authorities said they are temporarily prohibiting non-resident foreigners from entering the country.

The ban, which takes effect Monday, will run through January. The move comes after the Asian country confirmed Friday its first five cases of the faster-spreading strain in passengers arriving from Britain.

French health minister Olivier Veran admitted early last week that it was "entirely possible" the new strain was already spreading in the country, despite scientists having found no solid proof at the time.

The Philippines on Saturday extended a ban on flights coming from the UK by two weeks until the middle of January as part of measures to avert the spread of the new strain.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has also ordered 14-day isolation for passengers who come from or travel through the UK or from nations where the variant has been detected.