Covid-19: Bangladesh detects first cases of virus variant spreading in India

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Members of a cargo vessel from India have tested positive for Covid-19.
Members of a cargo vessel from India have tested positive for Covid-19.
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Bangladesh has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, the country's health directorate said on Saturday, weeks after it sealed its borders with its neighbour.

Six cases of the Indian variant had been detected in Bangladesh, Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the health directorate, told reporters.

“Two cases are confirmed to be of the Indian variant, and the others are quite close to it," Sultana said, adding that they all recently returned from neighbouring India and were in isolation.

“The Indian variant is highly contagious and people must be cautious and strictly follow health guidelines such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distances and washing hands."

The variant, named B.1.617, has reached at least 17 countries, from Britain and Iran to Switzerland, sparking global concern.

The World Health Organisation has described it as a "variant of interest", suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade vaccine immunity.

India, battling a devastating second wave of the coronavirus that has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums, on Saturday reported its highest ever single-day Covid-19 death toll.

Total cases stand at 772 127, with 11 878 deaths.

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