44 countries report cases of Covid-19 variant first found in India – WHO

Stock photo by Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

So far, 44 countries have now reported the cases of the mutated Covid-19 variant that was first detected in India and is linked to the country’s massive outbreak, where active Covid-19 infections in India have now surpassed 3.7 million. The drastic spike in cases linked to the new variant has led to severe shortages of hospital beds and oxygen to treat patients with critical respiratory symptoms.

WHO called B.1.617 strain a “variant of concern” which seems to be more infectious than the original virus due to the “rapid increases in prevalence in multiple countries.” The World Health Organisation says the B.1.617 Covid variant, which was first found in India back in October, has now been reported in “44 countries in all 6 WHO regions” with Britain reporting the largest number of infections caused by the variant. More than 4,500 samples in the organisation’s open-access database were positive for the B.1.617 variant.

Thailand has barred arrivals from India and recently, arrivals from Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh where the outbreak of the new variant is widespread, with the expectation of Thai nationals and those with diplomatic passports. Thai embassies in those countries have suspended the issuing of Certificates of Entry. Airlines have been warned about penalties for failure to check for the documentation prior to departure.

The move to suspend arrivals from other countries where the Covid-19 variant has spread comes after a woman and her young son tested positive for the variant in Thailand’s state quarantine after travelling from Pakistan.

A health official from Thailand’s Siriraj Hospital cited concern about possibility of the variant from India spreading to Thailand through the country’s porous borders.

“What is worrying us now is the possible arrival of this new coronavirus variant through the country’s border areas, given the fact that more than 15,000 illegal migrants have sneaked in over the past 4 months. So, it is now very critical to step up security measures along the borders shared with Myanmar, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The Thai-Laos border isn’t as much of a concern.”


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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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