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First Case of Indian Variant of Coronavirus Detected in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans wait to give swab samples to test for COVID-19 outside a hospital as a health official walks past in Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka. (AP)

Sri Lankans wait to give swab samples to test for COVID-19 outside a hospital as a health official walks past in Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka. (AP)

The Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenapura here in a report released on Saturday said the infected person had returned from India and was found at a quarantine center for returnees in Colombo.

Sri Lanka on Saturday detected its first case of the Indian variant of coronavirus, also known as B.1.617, in a person who recently returned from India and was in a quarantine centre here. The Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenapura here in a report released on Saturday said the infected person had returned from India and was found at a quarantine center for returnees in Colombo.

The sample was among several other samples obtained for testing until April 30, the Colombo Gazette reported. The statement also gave details of other variants so far found in the island.

They are: B.1.1.7 (UK variant), B.1.428 (Denmark/European/Middle East variant), B.1.411 (Sri Lankan variant), B 1.525 (Nigerian variant) and the B.1.351 (South African variant). Sri Lanka on Friday recorded 19 deaths, the highest number of fatalities in a single day. The total number of deaths in the country due to COVID-19 stands at 764.

The country on Saturday began rolling out the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine after the WHO approved it for emergency use. The island had received 600,000 doses of Sinpoharm last month.

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As the local health medicine regulators failed to endorse it in the absence of WHO approval for emergency use, only the Chinese nationals employed in the country were administered the vaccine. Early this week, the Russian Sputnik V was first administered in a populous Colombo suburb as cases surged throughout the island.

Sri Lanka had to opt for other vaccines due to the delay in AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India. The roll out of AstraZeneca’s second dose began last month even with the shortfall of the required number. Sri Lanka has over 121,000 coronavirus infections with over 101,000 recoveries since the onset of the pandemic in March last year.

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first published:May 08, 2021, 16:31 IST