Covid-19 updates: US reports first case of new variant, Indonesia bans entry of foreigners

The United States, along with Chile, has become the latest country to report cases of the new strain of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the United Kingdom in mid-December. According to a study by Public Health England, the new variant does not cause illness more severe than other variants of the virus. Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had approved placing more regions of the country under the highest level of restrictions – also known as tier 4. The country’s health chief further warned that England is “back in the eye” of the Covid-19 storm, with as many patients in hospital as during the initial peak in April.

Here are the latest updates on the new Covid-19 variant:

1. The United States reported the first case of the variant in Colorado. State officials said that the variant was found in a man in his 20s who has been in isolation in Southeast Denver in Elbert County adding that he has no travel history. Dwayne Smith, director of public health for Elbert County said that there was a second suspected case of the new variant in the state, according to Colorado Politics.

2. On Tuesday, six cases of the new variant were detected in India, prompting the government to direct genome sequencing of samples from all passengers who arrived in the country between December 9-22 and tested positive for coronavirus or were symptomatic. The Union health ministry added that all six infected passengers were in isolation and their close contacts were being traced.

3. The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association wrote to the Air India Director (Operations) demanding details regarding the variant. “We demand the company procure info from labs and promptly inform all pilots who have tested Covid positive and pilots who may test positive in future if they are infected with this deadlier variant of SARs-CoV-2,” the association said in the letter.

4. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the national capital is ready to tackle the new variant of Covid-19 detected in the UK. Delhi’s daily Covid-19 tally has been below the 1,000-mark for five consecutive days with 703 new cases reported on Tuesday. Over 84,000 coronavirus tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.

5. Chile on Tuesday recorded its first case of the British variant of Covid-19 which led to authorities reinstating a compulsory quarantine period for all visitors entering the country from abroad. Chilean undersecretary of health Paula Daza said a Chilean woman who returned on December 22 had tested positive for the variant. adding that Daz said that the woman had travelled to London to visit family adding that she was asymptomatic, in quarantine and in good health.

6. Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi said that visitors from abroad will be banned from entering the country for a period of two weeks in order to keep out the new potentially more contagious variant of Covid-19. The new order- which will be effective from January 1 – comes after the government had banned passengers arriving from the UK, and tightened rules for those arriving from Australia and Europe.

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