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India’s Covid-19 variant detected in Uganda

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Uganda has reported its first case of the Indian variant of Covid-19

A sample from the infected person, who is receiving treatment at the Mulago National Referral Hospital in the capital Kampala, was taken on 26 March.

The country has also recorded variants from the UK, South Africa and Nigeria.

Confirmation of the Indian variant comes as India battles a second wave of coronavirus that has devastated its cities, with hospitals running of beds and oxygen and funerals taking place in car parks.

Despite the surge in cases in India, there is not yet enough data to say the Indian variant is a “variant of concern” – a term used to describe the UK, Brazilian and South African variants.

The Executive Director of the Uganda Virus Institute, Dr Pontiano Kaleebu, said that more emphasis would have to be placed on preventative measures and testing at the country’s borders.

Uganda rolled out the first phase of its vaccination campaign in March after receiving 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab through the global-sharing Covax scheme, and an additional 100,000 from India.

Just 304,000 people have so far taken their first dose.

The first phase is aimed at front-line workers – including those in the health and education sectors, the elderly and adults with with underlying health conditions.

The country began a phased easing of lockdown restrictions in May last year. Preventative steps, like the wearing of masks and social distancing, are now largely being ignored.

-BBC

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