Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 8 May: The highly contagious Indian variant of Covid-19 has been found in Bangladesh. ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of Directorate General of Health Services, confirmed the development to Our Correspondent.
Officials at Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) said that the Indian variant of coronavirus was detected in samples from Evercare Hospital in Dhaka.
According to GISAID database, the variant was found in the samples of two persons — both male, aged 41 and 23.
They were exposed to the variant while visiting India recently.
IEDCR collected nasopharyngeal swab on April 28 and 29 of the two patients. The samples were analysed at the Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (ideSHi) to learn about genomic sequence.
The results were submitted to the GISAID genome sequence database on Friday, the GISAID database mentions.
GISAID is a global science initiative and primary source established in 2008 that provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus. It facilitates genomic epidemiology and real-time surveillance to monitor the emergence of new Covid-19 viral strains across the planet.
The Indian variant has recently been listed as a “Variant of Interest” by the World Health Organization.
Although this variant caused massive surge of Covid-19 in India, there is no evidence the variant is deadlier than the others detected earlier, WHO said.
World Health Organization earlier listed the South African, UK and Brazilian variants as Variants of Concern.
Last week no Indian variant was found in 20 samples collected from different parts of Dhaka.
“We do genomic sequence every week. Last week, we analysed more than 20 samples from Covid-19 patients in Dhaka city. We did not find any Indian variant,” Dr Mustafizur Rahman, senior scientist at the icddr,b told The Daily Star today.
He said the South African, UK and Brazilian variants are already in the country.
“If we maintain health safety guidelines, no variant — deadly or not — can cause major problems,” the doctor added.