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Indian coronavirus variant found in Bangladesh Border closure extended

09 May 2021

Staff Reporter :
Bangladesh has detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) said on Saturday.
The variant has been detected from a sample collected at the Evercare Hospital in capital Dhaka and it has been published on Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), said Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of the IEDCR.
Besides, Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the health directorate, told reporters that six cases of the Indian variant had been detected in Bangladesh.
"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 Organization 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.
The World Health Organization (WHO) 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.
When contacted, Professor Dr. M. Muzaherul Huq, former Advisor of the World Health Organisation told The New Nation on Saturday, "We have to take all precautions to avoid contacts. Everybody should maintain safety measures wearing mask, sanitizing, washing hands and keep distancing from others strictly."
In case of any signs or symptoms of covid infection, go for isolation and should carryout investigations, he suggested. The professor also stressed for more research to discover new variant and genome sequencing.
Besides, Bangladesh has decided to keep its border with India close for another 14 days in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
However, the movement of goods-laden vehicles will continue even if the movement of passengers from India is suspended.
The decision to extend the land border closure was taken at a virtual meeting chaired by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Saturday.
Bangladesh shut its border with India on April 25 for 14 days after the neighbouring country saw a record surge in Covid cases and fatalities.
UNB adds: At least 445 Bangladeshis, who returned home from India through the Benapole border till Friday, have been sent to institutional quarantine in Khulna, officials said Saturday.
Additional deputy commissioner of Khulna Mohammad Yusuf Ali said, "Some 445 people have returned to Bangladesh from India through the Benapole border in the district till Friday. They have been kept at 11 quarantine centres under government supervision. Police are guarding the centres."
"Three medical teams have also been formed by the Khulna Civil Surgeon's Office for their medical checkup and a magistrate has been appointed at each centre to ensure adherence to all government directives," he added.
However, people kept under institutional quarantine have to pay for their food.
Khulna Civil Surgeon Dr Niaz Mohammad said, "The local administration is working to ensure quarantine and medical treatment of all India returnees."

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