Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 24 December: Bangladesh has found existence of a new coronavirus variant nearly similar to that of the United Kingdom, the genomic research laboratory of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) said.
“When we carried out genome sequencing on samples early November this year, then we understood that the new variant we found was nearly similar to the variant found in the UK and Peru,” BCSIR Principal Scientific Officer Dr Md Salim Khan said while confirming the matter to Our Correspondent on Thursday.
“However, we are not sure where the present mutation of the virus in Bangladesh is as infectious at the UK variant. Only after completing the genome sequencing at our lab, we will understand the transmissibility of the newly-mutated virus,” he added.
According to the IEDCR, travellers from the UK have been a major source of virus transmission to Bangladesh.
The United Kingdom on Tuesday reported a record number of new infections as a mutated variant of the coronavirus, which could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, caused the number of cases and hospital admissions to soar.
According to the World Health Organization, the UK strain has also been detected in small numbers in Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands. Another variant with similar genetic mutations has been linked to widespread transmission in South Africa.
Roughly 30 countries shut their borders to people travelling from Britain or South Africa to stop any further spread.
In the wake of this development, Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Wednesday said that all possible measures were being taken so that the new variant of coronavirus did not enter the country.
He also announced that passengers arriving from the UK would be institutionally quarantined for seven days when it is usually three days for passengers from other countries.
The minister also said that passengers from the UK would be provided with separate lines and counters for immigration as “Bangladesh doesn’t want a new strain of the pathogen to spread in the country.”
DGHS Assistant Director Dr Shahriar Sazzad said authorities at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) on Tuesday night received directives over the measures to be taken and had already begun the procedure.