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Alpha, Delta COVID-19 variants found in Sri Lanka

Highly contagious Alpha and Delta variants of the coronavirus have been detected in Sri Lanka, which is facing a third wave of the pandemic.

Patients carrying the Delta variant, or the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India, and the Alpha strain, formerly called the B.1.1.7 strain, which was first detected in the U.K., have been found at around nine locations of various districts in Sri Lanka, said Dr. Chandima Jeewandara, the Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

According to the sequencing report issued on Wednesday, 80 people were infected with the Alpha variant in multiple locations while the Delta variant was found in one person from a quarantine facility.

The Alpha variant cases were also reported in healthcare workers who were fully vaccinated.

Sri Lanka has witnessed an increase of positive cases and deaths since April, partly caused by celebrations and shopping during last month’s traditional new year festival. Sri Lanka has registered more than 2,10,000 cases and 1,843 confirmed deaths.

In view of the pressure on the health sector with the raging third wave, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has issued instructions to reinstate retired health workers on contract basis to battle the pandemic.

Sri Lanka continues with its vaccination programme with the arrival of another million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine out of a total 13 million which the country had ordered this year. The first batch of one million doses of Sinopharm arrived early this month.

The Health Ministry will extend the vaccine rollout to 12 more districts soon, the officials said.

The first dose of Covishield vaccine from India have been administered to 9,25,242 people so far with 3,53,789 being given the second dose. For the 6,00,000 shortfall for the second dose, the government says they are sourcing other suppliers.

Sri Lanka has requested Japan to provide 6,00,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in an attempt to complete administering the second dose to citizens.

Additionally, 64,986 people have received the first dose of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. By last night over two million of the island’s 21 million population have been vaccinated.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 6:31:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/alpha-delta-covid-19-variants-found-in-sri-lanka/article34780914.ece

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