India detects South African, Brazilian COVID-19 variants

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India has detected both the South African and Brazilian coronavirus variants and people returning from those countries may be tested more aggressively, health officials said on Tuesday.

The South African variant was detected in four people last month and the Brazilian one in one person this month, they said, adding that the strains can more easily infect a person’s lungs than the UK mutation.

The Indian government is now considering mandating RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests for all people coming from Brazil and South Africa, as is being done for those flying in from the United Kingdom. India has so far reported 187 cases of infection with the UK variant.

“There are no direct flights from South Africa or Brazil, so the health ministry and the civil aviation ministry are in touch on the steps to be taken on the matter,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told a news conference.

India’s COVID-19 cases rose by 9 121 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10.93 million, second only to the tally of the United States. Deaths rose by 81 to 155 813.