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First case of Indian Covid-19 variant detected in Switzerland

Health workers rest in between cremating Covid-19 victims in New Delhi on April 19 Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

The first case of the Indian variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in Switzerland, the Federal Office of Public Health has announced on Twitter. The case involves a passenger who was in transit at an airport.

This content was published on April 24, 2021 - 15:37
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The addition of India to the list of countries at risk is now being discussed owing to the rapid spread of the variant in the country, the office said on Saturday. Currently only Swiss citizens or people with a residence permit from India are allowed to enter Switzerland from India.

The health office said the sample with the Indian coronavirus mutation dated from the end of March. The passenger had entered Switzerland from a European country as a transit passenger and not directly from India.

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The Indian variant has already been detected in Britain and Belgium. In Belgium, 21 Indian students who arrived in mid-April via Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport tested positive for the variant and were placed in quarantine.

According to several experts, they may have been victims of a “super spreader”, perhaps within their group, during the bus journey from the Paris region to Belgium.

On Friday India reported the world’s highest daily tally of coronavirus infections for a second day, surpassing 330,000 new cases, as it struggles with a health system overwhelmed by patients and plagued by accidents.

Deaths in the past 24 hours also jumped to a record 2,263, the health ministry said, while officials across northern and western India, including the capital, New Delhi, warned that most hospitals were full and running out of oxygen.

A more infectious variant of the virus that originated in India may have helped accelerate the surge, experts said.

Britain, Canada, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have banned flights from India.

India, a major vaccine producer, has begun a vaccination campaign but only a tiny fraction of its population of 1.39 billion has received a dose, with experts saying supplies are scarce.

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