World Media

UK records another 2,596 coronavirus cases, 34 deaths

New Indian variant of Covid-19 detected in the UK

Boris Johnson's visit to India will still go ahead later this month despite the country's soaring coronavirus cases and a new variant there, No 10 says. "They are a worry".

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said it included two "escape mutations" which "are causing people to be concerned", but added it was not known for certain what this meant for the effect of a vaccine.

He was expected to spend four days in the country but Downing Street said the bulk of the work could be done in one day. Worldwide visitors who have travelled from or through countries on the UK's red list in the previous 10 days will be refused entry to Britain. Seventy-three cases were recorded in England and four in Scotland.

Britain has not classed India as a red-list destination, which requires travellers arriving from that country to enter hotel quarantine.

Viruses mutate all the time in a bid to survive.

This includes 1,109 samples with the United Kingdom variants, 79 samples with the South African variant and 1 sample with the Brazil variant. The most widespread of these was the more contagious variant that was detected in the United Kingdom a year ago.

Statistics shared by the National Institute of Virology, Pune showed that of the 361 COVID-19 samples taken in Maharashtra from January to March and genome sequenced, 61% or 220 had the double mutation E484Q and L452R, according to the Indian Express.

Two key mutations set it apart from others - named E484Q and L452R - with both of them found on the "spike" that the virus uses to latch onto human cells.

A similar delay happened before testing started to pick up the South Africa variant.

"This virus variant is a variant of interest, the B1617 lineage".

"Having two of these mutations which have been seen in other variants around the world are concerning, because there's a similarity in these mutations that confer increased transmissibility, and some of these mutations also result in reduced neutralization, which may have an impact on our counter-measures including the vaccines", the WHO official said at a news conference on Friday. The health agency said it was monitoring the situation closely.

'We keep it under constant review and we won't hesitate to introduce tougher restrictions and add countries if we think it is necessary'. It is likely the India variant is at least in part driving the current exponential rise in cases in India which is putting pressure on India's healthcare infrastructure.

A staggering 175,910 new cases were diagnosed yesterday, nearly treble the 65,000 cases on April 1.

The prime minister has already scaled back his planned visit to Delhi, but is still planning to go at the end of April, with Downing Street insisting all elements of the trip will be "COVID-secure".