Coronavirus: world’s most vaccinated nation sees cases double; variant first identified in India found in Thailand, Philippines
- Cases in Seychelles, where 57 per cent have been fully inoculated with Sinopharm shots, increased to 2,486 people – 37 per cent of whom have had two doses
- Meanwhile, health authorities in Thailand and the Philippines have confirmed their countries’ first cases of a virus variant reported first in India
The group of palm-fringed tropical islands last week reimposed curbs including closing schools, cancelling sports events and banning mingling of households.
Daniel Lucey, clinical professor of medicine at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, said in a blog last week that data on genetic sequencing are not yet available for infections in Seychelles in April.
A comparison between Sinopharm, Covishield and unvaccinated people who caught the coronavirus could be done using genetic sequencing and data on the severity of their infections, Lucey said.
As of May 8, over 300,000 people in the Maldives had received at least one dose of a vaccine and 35 per cent of the population had received two, according to the Health Protection Agency. The country has been using Sinopharm and Covishield. Positive test results in Greater Male, the area in and around the capital of the Maldives, are about 60 per cent of the total.
Thailand, Philippines uncover first cases of variant from India
The Philippine health ministry said on Tuesday that the variant, known as B. 1.617, had been confirmed in two Filipino workers who returned in April from the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Both have been in isolation since coming back.
Thailand and the Philippines have banned most travellers from India, which has reported more than 22.6 million infections, second only to the United States, and more than 246,000 deaths. Both figures are widely believed to be undercounts.
Apisamai said the variant from India was found in a pregnant 42-year-old woman who arrived on April 24 with three sons. She and her 4-year-old were staying in the same room under state quarantine. The two other sons, ages 6 and 8, stayed in another room and tested negative.
Thailand on Monday announced 1,630 new cases, bringing its confirmed total to 85,005 since the pandemic began. There were 22 new deaths, for a total of 421.
About one-third of the reported cases in the latest wave were found in Bangkok, where daily increases have declined to 565 on Monday from 980 on Sunday and a record 1,112 on Saturday.
New clusters continue to be discovered in Bangkok, not only in crowded communities, but also at markets and department stores. Other clusters have been found among migrant workers at factories in two provinces near the capital.
Australia‘s Victoria state on alert after first case in two months
A man in his 30s, who returned from India in mid-April and completed mandatory two-week hotel quarantine in neighbouring South Australia, tested positive for the virus after developing symptoms over the weekend, authorities said.
Health workers had interviewed the man and urged people he had been in contact with to self-isolate and get tested. They also published a list of locations exposed to the virus.
Though Australia has largely eradicated the virus with border closures, Victoria has had most of the coronavirus cases and deaths and spent much of 2020 in lockdown.
“There is definitely a sense of complacency creeping in,” Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told reporters. “We haven’t had really significant outbreaks for some time and people drop their guard, people go about life as if we haven’t been through the 15 months we have all been through. But it is a reminder that we need to be on guard.”
Victoria had no immediate plans to elevate social distancing or mask-wearing rules, said Sutton, adding it was possible the man caught the virus in quarantine in Australia and not in India.
There were no other cases reported in Victoria or in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, which tightened its virus-protection rules last week when a couple tested positive without a known source.
Reporting by Bloomberg, Associated Press, Reuters