India tops 24 million COVID-19 cases
The number of recorded COVID-19 infections in India climbed above 24 million on Friday amid reports that the highly transmissible coronavirus mutant first detected in the country was spreading across the globe, Reuters reports.
The Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus has been found in cases in eight countries of the Americas, including Canada and the United States, said Jairo Mendez, a WHO infectious diseases expert.
People infected by the variant included travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Caribbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.
The mutant strain has also been detected in Britain, as well as in Singapore.
“These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences,” Mendez said. “The only worry is that they spread faster.”
Public Health England said the total number of confirmed cases of the variant had more than doubled in the past week to 1,313 across the United Kingdom.
“We are anxious about it - it has been spreading,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding that there would be meetings to discuss what to do. “We’re ruling nothing out,” he added.
According to health ministry data, India recorded 4,000 deaths and 343,144 infections in the last 24 hours. It was the third consecutive day of 4,000 or more deaths but daily infections have stayed below a peak of 414,188 last week.
While the total number of recorded infections crossed 24 million, the number of people confirmed to have died from COVID-19 stood at 262,317 since the pandemic first struck India over a year ago.