UK GOV: “B.1.617.2 has spread rapidly in India based on available data. There have been multiple importations to the UK and onwards transmission within the UK. In some regions, S gene target data suggests that this variant may be more frequent than is indicated by the current sequence data, due to the lag in sequencing, and may have replaced B.1.1.7 to some extent. Modelled growth estimates suggest that the variant is at least as transmissible as B.1.1.7. Further analyses are required with targeted comparator groups and improved correction for importation to refine the position on transmissibility. Some early laboratory data suggest limited antigenic change. There are insufficient data as yet to assess reinfection or vaccine effectiveness through national surveillance.”
Mobile Covid-19 testing units are being rolled out in Bolton as surge testing gets underway in the borough’s coronavirus hotspots. People in Rumworth, Deane or Great Lever are being urged to get tested at the units. Infection rates in those areas have increased, with Rumworth South seeing cases rocket by 500 per cent, with an infection rate of 359.3 per 100,000 people. In Lever Edge, part of Great Lever, cases have increased by 40 per cent.
Bolton currently has the second highest infection rate in the UK.
The Seychelles, which has fully vaccinated over 60% of its population against Covid-19, is bringing back restrictions amid a rise in cases. The archipelago of nearly 100,000 people recorded close to 500 new cases in the three days to 1 May and has about 1,000 active cases. A third of the active cases involved people who have had two vaccine doses, the country’s news agency said. The rest had either had a single dose or were unvaccinated.
There are currently 1,068 active Covid cases in the Seychelles, of which a third have been detected in people given two doses of either AstraZeneca’s or China’s Sinopharm’s vaccine. It unclear what has triggered the surge in cases but testing has detected the South African variant spreading on the islands. (Daily Mail report)
Graph courtesy of Ourworldindata.org
The coronavirus variant currently spreading in Sri Lanka has been found to be a UK B.1.1.7 variant of the virus. Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the Sri Jayewardenepura University, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said mutations specific to the UK variant B.1.1.7 lineage, had been detected in several areas of the country. He said the virus strain has been detected from samples obtained from Colombo, Boralesgamuwa and Kurunegala. Dr. Jeewandara further said that this confirms that the B.1.1.7 lineage of COVID-19 is the new strain currently circulating in Sri Lanka. He said this particular strain of the coronavirus has been identified as the cause for the current massive outbreak in the country.
A two-week coronavirus lockdown has been introduced in Cyprus from 26th March 2021. Cyprus has seen a surge in coronavirus infections over the last month, putting pressure on its healthcare system. Since March 2020, Cyprus has recorded over 60,000 cases of COVID-19, and some 300 deaths. The current daily case rate per million people is nearly 1,000.
Businesses including hairdressers, gyms, theatres and cafés will have to shut, along with retail businesses except for food and beverage or essential services.
Victoria, Australia has closed its border to Perth residents after a passenger infected with coronavirus landed at Melbourne Airport. The man caught the virus at a quarantine hotel in Perth after being in China and then flew to Melbourne without knowing he was a carrier.
On Friday night the case plunged Perth into a three-day lockdown after it was revealed the man had moved around the city for four days. The man who arrived is Victoria’s first community case of COVID-19 in eight weeks. All 257 passengers aboard the April 21 flight QF778 have been ordered to get tested and to isolate for 14 days.
Sujeet Singh, director of the Indian National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said that in Maharashtra, the B.1.617 variant was found in proportions of over 50% in many cities. Nearly 64 cases of the UK strain were found in Maharashtra, six cases of the South African strain, one of the Brazilian strain and 427 cases of the Indian double mutant variant. Over 1,770 samples were sequenced for variants in Maharashtra.
The Covid-19 surge in Delhi, however, seems to be driven mainly by the UK variant B.1.1.7. In Delhi, there are primarily two types of variants — B.1.617 and the UK strain — found in the genome sequenced samples, the NCDC director said. The B.1.617 variant of coronavirus is also known as the double mutant strain. The UK variant was found in 28% of samples in the second week of March. In the last week of the month, 50% of samples had this variant, Singh added.
West Bengal had 40 cases of the UK strain B.1.1.7, nine cases of the South African strain B.1.351 and 124 cases of the Indian double mutant B.1.617.
The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, has shared data with laboratories in Maharashtra showing that of 361 Covid-19 samples taken in Maharashtra from January to March and genome sequenced, 61% or 220 had the double mutation E484Q and L452R, now classified as B.1.617 lineage.
On March 24, the Central government had announced the detection of a double mutant variant in “15-20% samples in Maharashtra” but did not link the variant with the second surge in the state.
The Auckland Airport worker who has tested positive for Covid-19 cleans planes from high risk Covid-19 ‘red-zone countries’, and had been fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. They were fully vaccinated early on in the campaign and were last tested on 12 and 19 April, she said. Yesterday’s test returned a positive result today.
“The reason this person was part of our surveillance testing was because they were working in an area we consider to be high-risk. They are coming in contact with the planes that are carrying passengers from high risk countries and so that is a place where our workers, they are in the kinds of roles that means they need to be tested, they need to be vaccinated, but they also need to be thanked for the jobs that they do because of the risk that it carries.”
“Instead of following evolving evidence, the [Swedish] FHM has doubled down and defended its approach without reconsidering the assumptions on which the failed national approach is based. It has downplayed the roles of asymptomatic spread, aerosol transmission, children as potential source of infection, and the use of face masks. It has maintained an approach that mainly builds on recommendations to take voluntary actions, guided (in our view) more by public opinion than by sound public health policy. “
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is one simple graph like this worth?
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said all ministers have requested Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to impose a complete lockdown in the state from 8 pm tomorrow. “We have made our request. Now it is up to the Chief Minister to take the final call,”
India reported 259,170 new Covid-19 cases and 1,761 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Union Health Ministry.
** Update from The Times of India: **
Maharashtra is likely to impose a “strict lockdown” in the state, senior minister Aslam Sheikh said on Monday amid an unprecedented rise in Covid-19 cases. Maharashtra has been reporting over 50,000 coronavirus cases every day in the last two weeks.
India has been added to a “red list” of countries from which most travel to the UK is banned over fears of a new Covid variant [B.1.617], the health secretary has said. From 04:00 BST on Friday, most people who have travelled from India in the last 10 days will be refused entry. British or Irish passport holders, or people with UK residence rights, will be allowed in but must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
On April 14, 32 cases of infection with the 20C / 655Y (B.1.616) variant were confirmed (29 in Brittany, three in other regions). All cases have a direct or indirect link with the enhanced surveillance zone by Brittany. The majority of the cases relies on the transmissions within the hospital clusters in the zone.
A few cases have been reported in connection with a chain of transmission in the community but, to date, there are significant dissemination of this variant in the population has not been documented, whether in Brittany or elsewhere. Epidemiological investigations are continuing to characterize the episode and monitor the spread of this variant.
The few remaining coronavirus hotspots in London seem to be concentrated around Heathow airport and in the central London area around Whitehall, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly and The Strand.