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The Union health ministry has directed states to start rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong as these countries have reported multiple cases of new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) variant 8.1.1529 that is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations.

"This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel," health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states issued late on Thursday.

Meanwhile, India reported a rise in daily coronavirus cases. With 10,549 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the active cases stand at 1,10,133, the Union Health Ministry said today. As many as 488 people have succumbed to the COVID-19 infection in the country in the last 24 hours.

On Friday, the UK Health Security Agency said the new variant has a spike protein that was dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are based on. And it could make existing vaccines less effective.

Britain has banned flights from six African countries and asked returning British travellers from those destinations to quarantine.

New Covid variant B.1.1.529

The new variant, identified as B.1.1.529, carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays a key role in the virus’ entry into cells in the body Researchers are still trying to determine whether it is more transmissible or more lethal than previous ones.

The WHO called a meeting today to discuss B.1.1.529 and decide if it will be officially designated a variant of interest or concern.

Cases of new Covid variant B.1.1.529

As of Thursday, there were almost 100 cases detected in South Africa, where it’s become the dominant strain among new infections

 

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