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Many countries have been reporting the first cases of the Indian variant of coronovirus, also known as B.1.617, as India battles a vicious second wave of Covid-19 infections.

In its report last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that the Indian strain of the coronavirus has been found in at least 17 countries, including the United Kingdom, USA and Singapore.

Neighbouring countries

India's neighbours- Sri Lanka and Bangladesh- have reported the first cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus, prompting authorities to exercise caution to contain its spread.

Six cases of the Indian variant had been detected in Bangladesh, Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the health directorate, told reporters as quoted by news agency PTI. Two cases are confirmed to be of the Indian variant, and the others are quite close to it," Sultana said.

Bangladesh overnight detected six people, who had recently visited India, infected with the Indian variant of the COVID-19, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) spokesman Professor Dr Nazmul Islam Munna said on Saturday.

"Six people have been found to be carrying the Indian variant so far and we expect more people to be detected with identical types of virus in the coming days," Munna told PTI.

UK

On the other hand, UK's Bedfordshire county has also reported cases of this variant. Seven cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus have been found in the UK's county.

In April, the Public Health England (PHE) had said that 77 cases of the B.1.617 variant were recorded in the UK up to 14 April. Of these, 73 were recorded in England and four in Scotland.

The PHE had elevated the Indian variant from under investigation to a Variant of Concern (VOC) following a rise in the number of cases in the UK and evidence of community transmission.

East Africa

A case of the Indian variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Kenya, the country's health ministry said Wednesday, a few days after it was also confirmed in neighbouring Uganda.

The case was detected among samples taken from Indian travellers who were working in Kisumu, a city in western Kenya, said the ministry's director general, Dr Patrick Amoth.

The variant has also been detected in Uganda, where one case was found in a recent traveller from India.

The B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV2 or the 'Indian strain', feared to be contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India, has been designated as the Variants of Interest (VOI) by the World Health Organisation, it said in its weekly epidemiological update.

Both B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 were first identified in India in December 2020, and have been detected at increasing prevalence concurrent to the major upsurge observed in the country, the agency said. B.1.617.3 was first detected in India in October 2020, but relatively fewer viruses matching this sub-lineage have been reported to date.

India on Saturday for the first time registered more than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths in just 24 hours, and more than 400,000 new infections.

(With inputs from agencies)

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