Sri Lanka reports ‘new U.K.-variant’ of COVID-19

A team of scientists at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura confirmed detection of the new variant of the novel Coronavirus

Sri Lankan authorities on Wednesday said a visiting British national tested positive for the new strain of COVID-19 reported recently in the United Kingdom.

“An individual who arrived from the UK was found carrying the new COVID-19 variant that is rapidly spreading in the UK,” Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told local media. Health authorities suspect that the infected person arrived in Sri Lanka within the last two weeks.

A team of scientists at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura confirmed detection of the new variant of the novel Coronavirus. Health officials did not share further details of the patient, or her/his arrival.

The development comes on the eve of England’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka that, authorities had said, was being held as per strict medical protocols, including mandatory quarantine. Team England arrived in Sri Lanka on January 3. It also comes amid Sri Lanka’s second wave of Covid-19, since an outbreak in October, during which time the total number of cases reported went up from 3,300 to over 49,000 [6,672 are active]. The fatalities too increased from 13 to 244, as of Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to revive the country’s crucial tourism sector, after borders were closed to tourists for nearly nine months, authorities welcomed nearly 200 Ukrainian tourists in the last week of December. However, with at least five of them testing Covid-19 positive on arrival, Opposition politicians and critics have slammed the government for “putting the country at risk”, with its “pilot project”.

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