Germany, Vietnam reports India Covid starin

Berlin: Germany announced on Thursday that it had cases of a Covid-19 mutation that is suspected of leading to a devastating surge in India, the most recent country to detect the strain.

When asked about the B.1.617 version of Covid-19, which was discovered in India, Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute infectious disease agency, told reporters, "We have isolated cases in Germany; we will issue a new report tomorrow."

According to the World Health Organization, the version has been found in "at least 17 countries."

"The majority of sequences were uploaded from India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Singapore," the WHO said in its weekly pandemic epidemiological update.

India is dealing with an increase in new cases and deaths, and concerns are growing that the variant could be adding to the escalating disaster.

The outbreak of infections in India has resulted in an increase in global cases. More than 3.1 million people have died as a result of the outbreak.

Germany is now dealing with a third wave of the pandemic and tightened national shutdown measures on Saturday in an attempt to control the epidemic.

On Thursday, Europe's largest economy recorded nearly 25,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours, as well as 264 additional deaths, taking the number to 82,544.

Vietnam reports cases of Indian Covid variant, new community outbreak

Vietnam has discovered four cases of a Covid-19 strain thought to be responsible for a devastating outbreak of the virus in India, according to state media on Thursday.

Separately, on Thursday, the country announced its first community outbreak in weeks.

Due to mass quarantines and thorough touch tracing, Vietnam has kept case numbers low so far, registering 2,910 cases and 35 deaths.

All four infected with the B.1.617 version of Covid-19, which was discovered in India, had recently traveled from that country and were quarantined upon arrival in Vietnam.

"The genetic sequencing results of four out of five Covid-19 patients arriving from India showed that the patients have been infected with the Indian strain of the virus," Lao Dong newspaper said Thursday.

On Friday, the results of a fifth individual who was checked will be known.

The discovery of the variant came as more than 1,000 people were put under lockdown in a village in Ha Nam province, near Hanoi, on Thursday.

According to the ministry of health, a man who returned to the region from Japan this week tested positive for Covid-19 after a 14-day quarantine and passed the virus on to his relatives.

Six people in the city, including the man who returned from Japan, tested positive, according to the ministry.

According to media reports, infections have also been discovered in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the northern Hung Yen province.

Last month, the last group outbreak, which was centered around the northern city of Hai Duong, was successfully contained.

However, the country has been on high alert following a spiraling outbreak in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia and Laos, which share a border with Vietnam.

On Friday, Vietnam starts a four-day public holiday, and holiday hotspots are predicted to be crowded.

'Act now': Africa medics warn of India-like Covid surge

Africa risks being overwhelmed by coronavirus infections if immediate steps are not taken to prevent a catastrophe close to India's "very worrying" crisis, the continent's disease control body warned on Thursday.

India, a large subcontinent with a population comparable to that of Africa, is dealing with an outbreak of diseases, with jarring images of people desperately seeking oxygen and medicines.

This has raised concerns that as new variants spread, Africa's already frail healthcare systems could collapse.

"We are watching in total disbelief what is happening in India. The situation in India is very, very concerning to us as a continent. It speaks to the fact that we as a continent must be very prepared," Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told a press conference.

According to the Africa CDC, despite early warnings of catastrophe on the continent, Africa has been spared relative to other countries, accounting for 3.1 percent of global virus cases and only four percent of global deaths.

India, like many African countries, took strict early steps to contain the virus, and it seemed that the country had escaped the worst of the outbreak due to its young population.

However, a recent version and mass gatherings have resulted in an outbreak of infections that have overrun Indian hospitals, crematoriums, and graveyards.

"It is a wake-up call. We cannot be indifferent to what is happening in India. We must act now, decisively and collectively," said Nkengasong.

On May 8, the African Union will hold an emergency meeting with health ministers from member countries.

"We need to regroup and prepare ourselves," said Nkengasong.

On Thursday, India recorded 3,645 deaths and nearly 380,000 cases in the previous 24 hours.

The Africa CDC recommended a return to fundamentals, such as following public health recommendations and wearing face masks, to keep infections at bay.

"Masks work. They are the only 'vaccines' we have," said Nkengasong.

Africa is also lagging behind in its immunization program, which was hampered when India, which produces the shots distributed through the global vaccine-sharing facility Covax, decided to cut exports to meet domestic needs.

Vaccine hesitancy, according to Nkengasong, is also a barrier to uptake.

Some nations, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been forced to return vaccines to the Covax facility for redistribution after failing to use them before their expiration date. Jabs have also run their course in South Sudan and Malawi.

So far, 17.9 million vaccine doses have been distributed across the continent.

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