COVID19: Two more cases of Indian variant detected

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The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has notified Cyprus that two of 170 samples taken from COVID-19 patients were infected with the potent Indian variant of the virus.

A majority 166 cases returned a positive result for the British variant, which is now the predominant variant on the island.

Another two were found to be infected with the C.36 variant, which is not of concern, the Health Ministry said.

Positive samples involved in the latest ECDC report were collected between 30 April and 21 May.

Authorities have been concerned over the appearance of the Indian and South African variants, which have proven to be more aggressive and dangerous, threatening to derail Cyprus’ success in bringing the virus under control.

Cases infected by the Indian and South African variants were first detected in April among a small number of people who arrived from grey category countries, which means they were quarantined on arrival.

The first four cases of the Indian variant and two with the South African mutation were confirmed last month and isolated on arrival to the island.

For the two new cases announced Wednesday, the ministry failed to clarify whether those infected with the Indian variant tested positive at airports or were detected in the community.

Until recently, health authorities have had no indication the Indian COVID-19 variant had contributed in any way to the spread of coronavirus.

“Despite measures taken at points of entry and the conditions set for arriving passengers based on countries… there is always a chance that mutations will be introduced in the community,” the Health Ministry announced Wednesday.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou has said there was a chance the Indian and South African mutations detected on the island in April might spread into the community, adding that vaccinations were the only way to stop the spread of “aggressive variants.”

Scientists now argue that inoculation coverage to shield the population from COVID-19 in case a variant of concern prevails needs to increase to 85% from a previously estimated 70%.